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1 A Continental Divide? Social capital in the US and Europe Pippa Norris and James Davis Harvard University and NORC.

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Presentation on theme: "1 A Continental Divide? Social capital in the US and Europe Pippa Norris and James Davis Harvard University and NORC."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 A Continental Divide? Social capital in the US and Europe Pippa Norris and James Davis Harvard University and NORC

2 2 Structure I. Theoretical framework II. Data and evidence III. The distribution of social capital IV. Generational trends V. Conclusions

3 3 I. Theories of social capital Social capital “Connections among individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them.” Social Capital Generalized reciprocity Social TrustSocial tolerance Social Connectedness Formal memberships Informal social networks

4 4 Putnam’s Claims: Social networks and trust matter for societal cooperation Social capital has consequences for democracy Social capital has declined in post- war America

5 5 Declining social trust, US Note: Q. “Do you think that most people can be trusted, or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?” % agreeing that ‘Most people can be trusted’ Source: US General Social Survey,

6 6 Associational members, US Sport Politics Church Note: The percent of Americans who report that they are members of a political club, a labor union, a sports club, a hobby club, a literary or art group, a professional society or a church group. These associations were selected for comparison as functionally equivalent to the list of associations included in the ESS. Source: US General Social Survey,

7 7 US Trends, GSS Informal Sociability Associational Membership Social Trust First year of series Latest year Data points Number of cases25,93619,68829,669 Standardized regression coefficients Models A: Year-.025** ** Models B: Year dummies-.038**-.032** -.090** Models C: Year Birth cohort ** Source: US General Social Survey

8 8 Key questions: Has social capital eroded in Europe? Parallel social trends e.g.  Rise of TV entertainment  Changing roles of women and men  Suburban sprawl Or is social capital different in Europe? Path-dependent  Role of the state  Cultural traditions eg role of unions, churches etc  Impact of Communism on civil society

9 9 II: Data and evidence

10 10 Surveys European Social Survey nations 1 st release (EES-15)  Nordic  Sweden, Norway, Finland  Northern Europe  Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland  Mediterranean Europe  Greece, Spain, Portugal, Israel  Central Europe  Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia U.S. General Social Survey

11 11 Age difference due to… Linear social trends  Formative experiences & social change Curvilinear patterns  Life cycle effect from early to middle age then retirement Period effects  Decisive events eg fall of Berlin wall  Contrasts by type of society

12 12 III: The distribution of social capital

13 13 III: Associational membership, EES-15 Note: “For each of the voluntary organizations I will now mention, please use this card to tell me whether any of these things apply to you now or in the last 12 months, and, if so, which.” Source: European Social Survey Pooled sample. Weighted by dweight.

14 14 Social capital in EES-15, 2002 Note: The mean level of membership in 12 types of voluntary association and the mean score on the Social Trust scale by nation. Source: European Social Survey 2002 Weighted by dweight.

15 15 IV: Generational trends

16 16 Social trust by cohort of birth, ESS >

17 17 Social tolerance by cohort of birth, ESS >

18 18 Informal social meetings by cohort ESS >

19 19 Associational membership ESS-15, 2002 >

20 20 V: Conclusions 1. Major inequalities in social capital: Northern Europe v. Southern and post-Communist Europe 2. Social trust similar among young and old in many countries, but some fall by age in English-speaking and Nordic states 3. Social tolerance and informal networks stronger among young 4. Associational membership is a life-cycle effect, greatest among the middle-aged. 5. Contrasting patterns in the US and Europe


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