04/16/2018

Northwest States Do Best, Southeast Worst In New Social Capital Measure

Charles Fain Lehman, The Washington Free Beacon

new index, released earlier this week, tracks social capital in America, showing the distribution of the nation's togetherness in a time when many worry it is coming apart.

The index is a product of the Social Capital Project, the work of Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) and the Congressional Joint Economic Committee. The SCP is focused on measuring the decline in social capital, the measure of how tightly tied to communities and to one another Americans are.

The SCP's latest project is meant to capture how social capital is spread throughout the United States, and where it's strongest and weakest. This work adds to previous indexes produced by researchers at Penn State University and by noted social scientist Robert Putnam. The SCP argues that these past efforts rely on out-of-date data, or under-include certain indicators.

"Our conclusion was that a better social capital index was needed than those currently available," the report reads.

To measure social capital, the project aggregated numerous publicly available statistics on America's states and counties. These included measures of family, like time spent together and out-of-wedlock births (on which the SCP has reported previously); measures of social support, like the average number of friends adults have; and measure of community and institutional health, like volunteer hours and voting habits.

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