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Social Capital Project

About the Project

The Social Capital Project is a multi-year research effort that will investigate the evolving nature, quality, and importance of our associational life. “Associational life” is our shorthand for the web of social relationships through which we pursue joint endeavors—namely, our families, our communities, our workplaces, and our religious congregations. These institutions are critical to forming our character and capacities, providing us with meaning and purpose, and for addressing the many challenges we face.
                

The Latest

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The COVID-19 pandemic altered the lives of every family in America and particularly affected American families with school-aged children. In March 2020, every school district in the country closed and transitioned to remote learning, and this posed new challenges for parents, teachers, and students. The virus persisted throughout the fall and winter, and so have the associated challenges for families and children.
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A well-chosen and consistent monetary policy anchor will not solve every problem—and certainly not ones directly related to public health—but it can facilitate the execution of financial and business contracts and shore up the social contract by lowering uncertainty about the future.
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As sources of valuable social capital, few relationships are as important as the family ties between parents and children. However, as with other features of our associational life, family ties have been weakening for several decades.
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While there are good reasons not to rely on the tax code to promote social goals, its imbalanced treatment of spending and saving actually discourages savings and thereby poses a barrier to social capital investment. Universal savings accounts would help rectify this bias.
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Even in our twenty-first-century American society, associational life ought to be at the center of thinking about our social order and public policy. This report discusses rebuilding civil society. It lays out the nature of our diminished civil society, documents trends in its decline, and charts a path to its renewal.