ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING BENCHMARK SURVEY:
-- Along every dimension of social capital (such as social trust, faith-based
participation, etc.) a community quotient (CQ) score shows a community's
performance on this dimension relative to what was predicted given its
urbanicity, ethnicity, levels of education and age distribution. A score
above 100 indicates that a community shows more of this community connectedness
than its demographics would predict; conversely, a score below 100 indicates
that a community shows less of this type of social capital than its demographics
would suggest. Roughly 68% of all communities would fall in the 85-115
range, and almost 95% of all communities would fall in the 70-130 range.
What is social
Social capital ("community connectedness") refers to social
networks and the norms of reciprocity that arise from them. A growing
body of hard-nosed literature over the last several years shows that social
capital, and the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation associated
with it, enables many important individual and social goods. Communities
with higher levels of social capital are likely to have higher educational
achievement, better performing governmental institutions, faster economic
growth, and less crime and violence. And the people living in these communities
are likely to be happier, healthier, and to have a longer life expectancy.
What is the role
of community foundations? Community foundations believe that the levels
of social capital in their communities are of critical importance to the
overall health of the community. Community foundations are social capital
builders, committed to working with all groups in their communities to
deploy experimental solutions to build their communities. The survey was
designed in response to their desire to measure the overall success of
communities in building social capital.
Mechanics of survey:
Surveys were conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch Corporation
by phone between July 2000 and November 2000. The survey has been developed
by the Saguaro Seminar
at the John F. Kennedy School of Government with the involvement of a
Scientific Advisory Group consisting of leading experts around the country
on social capital measurement.
The national sample
consisted of 3000 respondents, including a two-times oversample of Hispanics
and African-Americans. In addition, community samples, with 26,200 collective
respondents, were conducted in 40 communities; the local sponsor of the
community samples determined the sampling geography. Each community sample
consisted of at least 500 interviews.
What is significant
about national findings?
For a discussion of the most significant findings from the national data
and from the communities looked at as a whole, see the discussion at:
What do you expect/hope
to get out of the survey?
The survey brings broader national and community attention to the importance
of social capital. It provides a tool to help communities identify how
much social capital they have currently and thus measure progress going
forward. It also helps communities identify particular areas of strength
they can build upon or areas of weakness to address (e.g., informal neighborliness,
political engagement, volunteering/philanthropy, etc.).
How is this survey
different than other polls?
This is the first survey focused on social capital, although a host of
research over the past five years indicates that this is a vital community
resource. Moreover, it is the first major look at social capital at the
local level. It is highly unusual in such surveys that the local sponsors
of these polls are community foundations with a commitment to try to build
more local social capital. This survey is the largest scientific investigation
of civic engagement in America.
How will it be
At the national
level: since this will be the largest dataset on social capital,
it will be a very useful resource for academics in the future that want
to couple this data with other datasets on issues of public health, crime,
economic development, education, etc. We also hope it lays the foundation
for more regular measurement of social capital at the local level.
At the community level: this tool will help communities
identify what their levels of social capital are compared to the national
and regional averages, and measure progress going forward. As mentioned
earlier, it will help communities identify concretely particular areas
of strength to build on or areas of weakness to address.
- it will enable
communities to emulate others who are strong in specific areas
- some community
foundations will also use this survey to announce a new grantmaking
program to increase social capital, and others will use the spotlight
on social capital to convene community conversations on this topic.
What was the origin
of the idea?
The Saguaro Seminar at the John F. Kennedy School of Government was responding
to community foundations' requests for such a tool.
How were communities
The Saguaro Seminar selected
a broadly diverse group of community foundations (and in rare cases other
community representatives) from interested applicants.
What sort of questions
does the survey asked?
The survey asks about various "dimensions" of social capital.
1) levels of informal socializing with others (neighbors, close
2) to levels of trust of others and trust of government
3) to how diverse people's social networks are (bridging SK)
4) to what types of organizations people are active in
5) to volunteering and philanthropy
6) to work-based social connectedness
7) to levels of family contact
8) to political engagement
9) to use of the internet
10) to religious participation
What if my community
is interested in measuring social capital?
The survey instrument is posted at:
We encourage other
communities that want to measure their social capital to find a qualified
survey research or public opinion research firm to conduct the survey
in your community.
How can I see the
results of the survey?
We have described the most important national results at:
However, the weighted
marginals for the national sample for all the questions of the survey
are also available at https://www.hks.harvard.edu/saguaro/communitysurvey/index.html
. If you are interested in the results from a community rather than the
national sample, you should contact the local sponsoring organization
about obtaining copies of results.
How can I access
the survey data?
We have made the Social Capital Benchmark Survey available to all researchers
through the Roper Center & Institute for Social Inquiry in Storrs,
CT. At the following URL www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/scc_bench.html
you can find a registration sheet to fill out to get the data. We have
also provided the codebook (explaining the variable names and variable
labels), and the survey instrument.*