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Measuring social capital Penny Babb Office for National Statistics.

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1 Measuring social capital Penny Babb Office for National Statistics

2 What is social capital? –Social energy –Community spirit / good neighbourliness –Social bonds –Civic virtue –Community networks –Social ozone / Social glue –Social resources –Informal & formal networks

3 What is social capital? Often considered intuitive & hard to encapsulate in single sentence High social capital (social trust & networks) linked to desirable policy outcomes: –Lower crime rates –Better health and improved longevity –Better educational achievement –Greater income equality –Enhanced economic achievement

4 Types of social capital Bonding: Sociological Super Glue Bridging: Sociological WD40 (lubricant) Linking Complementary: One person is provided help by (an)other person(s) who has the resources to provide assistance Symmetrical: A group working together for the benefit of the collective

5 Measurement issues Multi-faceted concept –very difficult to quantify Cross cultural comparisons –eg volunteering means different things to different people Community attribute –but measured in household surveys at individual level and then aggregating

6 Harmonisation – why bother? Enables consistent measurement, analysis and interpretation Better understanding of society –Trends over time –Comparison between local and national studies

7 Agree a definition Networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate co-operation within or among groups OECD, 2001

8 Five main aspects of social capital –civic participation –social networks and support –social participation –reciprocity and trust –views about the local area

9 Five main aspects of social capital –civic participation voting, taking action on local or national issues –social networks and support contact with friends & relatives –social participation involvement in groups & voluntary activities

10 Five main aspects of social capital –reciprocity and trust giving and receiving favours, trust in other people –views about the local area satisfaction/problems with the area

11 Harmonised question set Standardised set of questions Agreed by a cross-department working group Drew on earlier measures Two forms: –Full question set (around 50 questions) –Core question set (15 questions)

12 Harmonised question set For use in household surveys: –Run in GHS 2004 –To be run in HO Citizenship Survey 2007, Survey of English Housing, Health Survey for England (older people module) 2005, Families and Children Survey 2005 Also being used in local surveys: –Liverpool and Camden councils

13 Policy applications Civil renewal –Local people identifying and solving problems affecting their community Active citizens who contribute to common good Strengthened communities in which people work together to find solutions to problems Partnership in meeting public needs, with government and agencies giving appropriate support and encouraging people to take part in democracy and influence decisions about their communities

14 Policy applications Community cohesion –To promote a cohesive community where: A common vision and a sense of belonging for all communities Diversity of peoples different backgrounds and circumstances are appreciated and positively valued Those from different backgrounds have similar life opportunities; and strong and positive relationships are being developed between people from different backgrounds in the workplace, in schools and within neighbourhoods

15 International measurement UN City Group: Siena Group of Directors of Social Statistics OECD Comparability Common definitions and tools –EU-SILC –Siena report

16 ONS work programme Bridging social capital –Literature review, plus list of questions specific to bridging Conversion of HQS from CAPI to self-completion Trust and participation in diverse communities

17 ESDS Guide Lists 29 major surveys which include questions relevant to social capital –Background information –List of surveys –Details of key surveys eg BHPS, HOCS –Technical bit - weighting

18 ESDS Guide Long time period covered –Earliest surveys include the BCS (1982) and Breadline Britain (1983) New developments –DCMS Taking Part (2005) –HOCS (2001, 2003, 2005) –ELSA (2002) –EU-SILC on GHS (2005 onwards)

19 ESDS Guide Geographic coverage –UK, as well as constituent parts, eg GHS, CHS, SHS Coverage of topics –Wide ranging but more on neighbourhood perceptions than participation Participation included more recently –Mix of repeated modules and one off questions

20 ESDS Guide A few repeated surveys –Breadline Britain & PSE –GHS –HOCS Panel and cross-sectional surveys –While not every wave, panel modules tend to be fairly frequent

21 For more information Email address: Webpage:

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