English title: The measurement of social capital at international level

Author(s): Tom Healy -

Language: English

Type: Report, working paper

Year: 2002


This paper has been prepared at the invitation of the OECD and the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) as a contribution to an International Conference on the measurement of social capital in London on 25-27 September, 2002. This conference follows from preliminary work undertaken on social capital both at OECD and in the UK Office for National Statistics1. A recent meeting of Ministers of Education in OECD endorsed continuing work in this area2. This paper is about the measurement of social capital at international level. Readers are referred to the recent OECD publication of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, The Well-Being of Nations: the Role of Human and Social Capital (OECD, 2001), for a more detailed consideration of the conceptual and research issues around the role of human and social capital. The Well-Being of Nations report has already raised the issue of international co-operation in the area of survey development and social capital measurement in the following terms: “Better measures of social capital are essential, and work is under way in a number of countries to develop survey instruments. One option would be for the OECD to explore the possibility of an international pooling of resources in this area – perhaps through the development of a common survey instrument, linked to the OECD’s continuing work on educational indicators.” (OECD, 2001: p71) Although there has been a rapid development in conceptual discussion of social capital in the last decade, demand for relevant empirical measures has continued to outstrip supply. Readily available indicators have been used, frequently based on single item measures such as questions on the extent to which people trust others, or questions on membership of associations or participation in voluntary or community activities. This paper presents a number of issues and options in an international context bearing in mind the desire to enhance measurement of social capital with respect to: 1. reliability and accuracy 2. coverage 3. comparability and 4. validity of measures, especially in a cross-cultural context.

Edition: 0

Institution: National Economic and Social Forum

Number of pages: 24

Number: 2

Series: Social Capital: The challenge of international measurement

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