5.1 As discussed in the introduction to this report, policy makers in Scotland and elsewhere are increasingly recognising the importance of social capital. Involving communities in the 'co-production' of public services and adopting an 'assets-based' approach to health improvement both rely on using and enhancing the networks and resources individuals and communities have at their disposal. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that having high levels of social capital can have positive benefits, providing resilience to physical and mental health issues, as well as representing a valuable resource to draw upon in difficult times.
5.2 This paper shows that people who are already socio-economically disadvantaged in society, by living in the most deprived areas of Scotland and having the lowest levels of education, are also less likely to have high levels of social capital assets to draw upon, including having particularly low levels of trust in other people in general. In contrast, people in remote rural areas stand out as having particularly high levels of social capital.24 Life stage also appears as a significant factor in relation to three dimensions of social capital: social networks, civic participation and views of local area.
5.3 Policy initiatives that seek to engage with communities and to utilise social capital need to take account of this variation in its distribution between different groups in Scottish society. Policy makers should look to better understand variations in social capital between different groups, how different kinds of social capital are established, and what the role for policy intervention or support may be. Finally, as discussed in the introduction to this report, any work to increase social capital may require further understanding of the interactions between individuals, groups and places in supporting or maintaining particular kinds of assets.
Email: Linzie Liddell