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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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Anne Case and Angus Deaton famously chronicled a dramatic rise among middle-aged non-Hispanic whites since 1999 in “deaths of despair”—deaths by suicide, drug and alcohol poisoning, and alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis. The Social Capital Project has extended Case and Deaton’s research to cover the full American population as far back as available data permit: to 1900 in some cases, and to 1959 or 1968 in others. We present here a snapshot of the long-term trends in deaths of despair. We also attach our full dataset for use in future research, including results broken down by age, sex, and race.

Apr 30 2019

The Wealth of Relations

Expanding Opportunity by Strengthening Families, Communities, and Civil Society

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For two years, the Social Capital Project has documented trends in associational life—what we do together—and its distribution across the country. With this evidentiary base established, the Project turns to the development of a policy agenda rooted in social capital. Specifically, the focus will be to craft an agenda to expand opportunity by strengthening families, communities, and civil society.
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Over the past 50 years, the United States has experienced major shifts in geographic mobility patterns among its highly-educated citizens. Some states today are keeping and receiving a greater share of these adults than they used to, while many others are both hemorrhaging their homegrown talent and failing to attract out-of-staters who are highly educated. This phenomenon has far-reaching implications for our collective social and political life, extending beyond the economic problems for states that lose highly-educated adults.
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Last year, the Social Capital Project released its Social Capital Index, a tool that measures the health of associational life across the United States. As explained in our earlier report, What We Do Together: The State of Associational Life in America, we define associational life as the “web of social relationships through which we pursue joint endeavors—namely, our families, our communities, our workplaces, and our religious congregations.