Social capital in Scotland: report

Report examining social connections within Scottish communities and what can be done to make these communities stronger and more inclusive.

8. Annex A – Technical note for the Social Capital Index

The Scottish Government developed an index based on four social capital themes: 1) social networks, 2) community cohesion, 3) social participation, and 4) community empowerment. Under these headings, data from 18 survey questions from the Scottish Household Survey is tracked over time to show aggregate change in the four themes, and for an overall measure of change in social capital nationally since 2013.

To account for the different magnitude of scores, each of the questions has been indexed and set to the value 100 for the base year 2013. Percentage changes for each question in subsequent years are calculated, relative to the base year.

The four themes and associated survey questions are:

1) Social Networks

  • Could rely on neighbour to help (‘Strongly agree’ or ‘tend to agree’)
  • Could count on neighbour to keep eye on home (‘Strongly agree’ or ‘tend to agree’)
  • Could turn to someone in neighbourhood for advice (‘Strongly agree’ or ‘tend to agree’)
  • Would help neighbour (‘Strongly agree’ or ‘tend to agree’)
  • Meets socially with friends, relatives, neighbours, work colleagues (‘every day or most days’, ‘a few times a week’, ‘once a week’)
  • Felt lonely in the last week (all or almost all of the time’, ‘some of the time’, ‘most of the time’

2) Community Cohesion (8 variables)

  • Neighbourhood rating (‘very good’ + ‘fairly good’)
  • Neighbourhood belonging (‘very strongly’ + ‘fairly strongly)
  • Feelings of safety walking home (‘very safe’ + ‘fairly safe’)
  • Neighbourhood trust (‘Strongly agree’ or ‘tend to agree’)
  • Neighbourhood kindness (‘Strongly agree’ or ‘tend to agree’)
  • Has places to meet up and socialise in their neighbourhood (‘Strongly agree’ or ‘tend to agree’)
  • Welcoming places and opportunities to meet new people (‘Strongly agree’ or ‘tend to agree’)
  • A neighbourhood where people get on well together (‘Strongly agree’ or ‘tend to agree’).

3) Community Empowerment (2 variables)

  • I can influence decisions (‘Strongly agree’ or ‘tend to agree’)
  • People take action to improve the area (‘Strongly agree’ or ‘tend to agree’)

4) Social Participation (1 variable (combined from 2))

  • In the last 12 months, has given up time to help any groups, clubs or organisations in an unpaid capacity (‘Yes’)
  • In the last 12 months, has given unpaid help to other people or to improve your local environment, that is apart from any help given through a group, club or organisations (not help given to relatives) (‘Yes’)

The indexed measures of variables within each theme are averaged to provide an index score for each theme. The four scores for each theme are averaged to provide an overall indicator. This means each theme has equal weight in the calculation of the overall score.

This approach uses variables that are already existing and some that were collected for the first time in 2018. Adding data from new variable with a base year value of 100 would artificially drag the overall average towards 100, which would be incorrect. New data will therefore be included at the current average, so they will contribute to show their proportional effect on the average in subsequent years. If variables are added or removed to the index in future, the remaining questions will be re-based from that point onwards in a similar way.



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