Measuring social capital and its consequences
If social capital is understood to be a resource that can facilitate the attainment of a community’s goals, then it may be searched for in its institutions, in its patterns of culture, in its modes of communication and association, or in its shared psychosocial characteristics as expressed in qualities such as trust, cooperativeness, or initiative. This paper focuses on the latter expressions of social capital, and especially on efforts to measure its presence in large-scale national populations. Evidence from Hofstede’s sample of 40 nations shows that the average strength of ‘individualism’ in each national population was strongly correlated with measures of income equality and press freedom; and from Inglehar’s sample of more than 40 nations that when positive social values such as trust are widely shared they produce desirable features of social organization such as economic growth and stable democratic government. The paper considers how far such psychosocial characteristics of national populations are stable or variable. It concludes with a discussion of the uses policymakers make of these distinctive elements of social capital.
KeywordsSocial Capital Human Capital National Population Achievement Motivation Income Equality
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