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Social capital guide

What is social capital?

In general terms, social capital represents social connections and all the benefits they generate. Social capital is also associated with civic participation, civic-minded attitudes and values that are important in that they enable people to co-operate, such as tolerance or trust. Social capital is important for the well-being of individuals, communities and nations.

Measuring social capital

ONS is developing headline measures of social capital as part of the ONS Measuring National Well-being programme, taking account of ongoing feedback from users and experts. The measures are using a framework that covers 4 key aspects of social capital: personal relationships, social network support, civic engagement and trust, and co-operative norms. The measures will be used to provide an overall assessment of social capital in the UK and to highlight inequalities in social capital in the UK.

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Latest publications

Inequalities in Social Capital by Age and Sex, July 2015 - 9 July 2015
Analysis of inequalities in social capital by age and sex in the UK, using the latest available data.

Measuring National Well-being, An analysis of Social Capital in the UK – 29 January 2015.
This publication provides a baseline assessment of social capital in the UK using the latest data available.

Measuring National Well-Being: Measuring Social Capital consultation response – 24 November 2014.
This publication outlines a draft set of 25 headline measures of social capital and reasons for their selection following feedback from stakeholders.

Measuring National Well-being, Measuring Social Capital, July 2014 – 18 July 2014.
This article proposes a framework and draft set of measures for social capital in the UK.

Social capital indicators review – 19 September 2011.
This is an earlier paper describing ONS work on social capital prior to 2011.

Archive content

This is archive content from the Social Capital Project undertaken by ONS around 2003. The work aimed to establish a process for defining and measuring social capital. A set of harmonised questions for use in surveys was developed.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.