Social capital

Elements of social capital

The Social Capital of a nation is the sum of social stability and the well-being (perceived or real) of the entire population. Social Capital generates social cohesion and a certain level of consensus, which in turn delivers a stable environment for the economy, and prevents natural resources from being over-exploited. Social Capital is not a tangible value and therefore hard to measure and evaluate in numeric values. In addition to local historical and cultural influences, the social consensus in a society is affected by several factors: health care systems and their universal availability/affordability (measuring physical health); income and asset equality, which are correlated to crime levels; demographic structure (to assess the future generational balance within a society); and freedom of expression, freedom from fear and the absence of violent conflicts that are required for businesses to be able to generate value.

Social capital scheme

The Social Capital World Map

  • The top 20 in the Social Capital sub-index is dominated by European countries from the North (particularly Scandinavia) – only Japan (7), South Korea (8), and Singapore (15) break into the ranks
  • The USA, due to comparable high crime rates and low availability of health services, is ranked 129, just below Liberia and before El Salvador.
  • Germany is ranked 5, the UK 28. 
  • China is ranked 37, India 84, Brazil 115.
  • The highest ranked South American country is Ecuador (71, the highest ranking African country Algeria (75).
  • Most African nations, particular within and south of the Sahel zone, are at the bottom of this list, due to a combination of low availability of health care services and child mortality, limited freedom of expression and unstable human rights situation.

Dark areas indicate high social capital, light shades low social capital

Social Capital World Ranking

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