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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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This week, marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Senator Mike Lee raised the question of whether a conservative populism could be racially unifying, rather than divisive. Senator Lee emphasized the importance of both advocating personal responsibility and acknowledging deep-seated barriers to opportunity (including policy barriers), as Dr. King did. To illustrate the point, and how social capital can be affected by deep-seated cultural, economic, and historical factors, the piece featured a map developed by the Social Capital Project.
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Social capital may be most valuable when an individual’s needs are greatest. Old age is a time of life when people often need to rely on family, friends, and other social relationships for care they are no longer able to provide for themselves. If an elderly adult lacks those relationships, however, they may have to lean more heavily on paid professional care, potentially leading to a lower quality of life and higher costs for families and government.
The opioid crisis remains one of the most pressing issues of our time. Who succumbs to addiction—and is therefore at risk of dying from a drug overdose—is affected by a variety of factors, but many of them are social. Adults who experience childhood trauma—often at the hands of a family member—are also especially at risk of addiction.
The share of prime-age men—between the ages of 25 and 54—that is neither working nor looking for work has been rising for decades. This rise has left an increasing number of men outside the world of work, historically an important source of social capital. Research suggests that these men often have especially constricted associational lives.

This report is intended to enrich our understanding of who these prime-age "inactive" men are. It summarizes evidence from past research and fills out our picture of these men, providing some details about their past and present social and emotional lives. We introduce an under-utilized dataset little-known to economists and sociologists, the "National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III," or NESARC-III.