Exploring Dimensions of Social Capital in Scotland Findings from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey and Scottish Household Survey

The report explores whether different groups in society experience different levels of social capital. It draws on data from the Scottish Social Attitudes survey (SSA) 2009 and the Scottish Household Survey 2010.

3 Key Findings

  • Overall the findings show that social capital varies significantly across different socio-economic and demographic groups.
  • Different factors appear significant for different dimensions of social capital. For example, whether or not people had regular contact with people in their local area varied significantly by age, while feeling you could rely on a neighbour to keep an eye on your home varied by tenure.
  • However, three key factors emerge as significantly associated with differing levels of social capital across at least four of the five dimensions.
    • People living in rural areas (particularly remote rural areas) consistently indicated higher levels of social capital compared with those in large urban areas.
    • People living in the least deprived areas of Scotland had higher levels of social capital than those in the most deprived areas.
    • People who are educated to degree level generally had higher levels of social capital, particularly in comparison with those with no educational qualifications.
  • Age was significantly associated with three aspects of social capital in particular - social networks, civic participation and views of the local area. However, the pattern by age was not uniform and varied depending on the particular aspect of social capital in question. While for example, older people appear to have better 'bridging' social capital - those aged over 65 were more likely than those under 30 to say they regularly stop and speak to people in their area. However, they were significantly less likely than younger people to want to be more involved in decisions their council makes that affect their local area. Younger people, aged 18-29, were the age group most likely to feel that anti-social behaviour was a problem in their area.
  • Other factors that were significantly and independently related to particular measures of social capital but not to others were:
    • social class (employers managers and professionals were the socio-economic group most likely to have volunteered and least likely to feel it was too difficult for them to do anything to improve their local area)
    • income (those on high incomes were less likely than those on low incomes to feel anti-social behaviour was a problem in their area)
    • gender (women were less trusting than men of people in general, but more likely to have volunteered in the last 12 months)
    • tenure (owner occupiers were more likely than social or private renters to agree that they have a neighbour they could count on to keep an eye on their home), and
    • disability (people with a long-standing illness or disability were slightly more likely than those without a disability to have done something active to register their views).
  • The only factors that were not significantly related to any of the social capital measures included in this paper were whether there are school-aged children in the household and marital status.


Email: Linzie Liddell

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