> About Social Capital
- We are, indeed, "bowling alone." That is, more Americans are bowling than ever before, but they are not bowling in leagues.
- Quitting smoking or joining a club—it's a tough call which would improve your life expectancy more.
- Joining and participating in one group cuts your odds of dying over the next year in half. Joining two groups cuts it by three quarters.
- The Internet didn't cause our civic disengagement. We were well on our way to civic disengagement when Bill Gates was in grade school.
- We're not experiencing a "Springtime" of volunteering, but an "Indian Summer"—propped up by our nation's seniors, who have been more civic throughout their lives.
- Each 10 minutes of additional commuting time cuts all forms of social capital by 10 percent: 10 percent less church-going, 10 percent fewer club meetings, 10 percent fewer evenings with friends, etc.
- The best predictor of tax evasion is the number of times annually that one gives the finger to another driver, and social capital is the best variable to successfully predict levels of tax compliance state-by-state.
- Watching TV is the only leisure activity where doing more of it is associated with lower social capital.
- If you had to choose between 10 percent more cops on the beat or 10 percent more citizens knowing their neighbors' first names, the latter is a better crime prevention strategy. If you had to choose between 10 percent more teachers or 10 percent more parents being involved in their kids' education, the latter is a better route to educational achievement.
- All the net growth in female employment over the last two decades is due to more women working because they have to financially; none of it is due to more women working for reasons of personal satisfaction.
- If you had to choose whether your child was born into a poor state or low social capital state, the low social capital state is worse for the child's outcomes according to the Annie Casey Foundation's Kids Count Index (low birthweight babies, unwanted teen pregnancies, teenage drug use, etc.).
- The proportion of socially isolated Americans has more than doubled over the 2 decades from 1984-2004: from 10% to a quarter of all Americans.
- Civic engagement and volunteering is the new hybrid health club for the 21st century—it's free to join and miraculously improves both your health and the community's through the work performed and the social ties built.
Family dinners and family vacations, or even just sitting and talking with your family, are down by one third in the last 25 years.
Having friends over to the house is down by 45 percent over the last 25 years.
Participation in clubs and civic organizations has been cut by more than half over the last 25 years.
Involvement in community life, such as public meetings, is down by 35 percent over the last 25 years.
Church attendance is down by roughly one third since the 1960s.
Philanthropy as fraction of income is down by nearly one third since the 1960s.
A tongue-in-cheek New Yorker cartoon on bridging social capital can be found here. ["It's Time to call in other people who don't know more but are just different.", 11/21/2005, p. 75)
Group parallel action is not always enough. A Sam Gross cartoon shows a pack of wolves howling at the moon. A wolf at the back turns to another and says, "My question is: Are we making an impact?" (New Yorker, 8-5-91)
And a famous 1993 cartoon about anonymity on the Internet in the New Yorker shows a dog explaining to another dog that no one knows you're a dog on the Internet.
Mick Stevens New Yorker cartoon of man on train surrounded by cellphone users saying to woman seated next to him, "'Would you mind talking to me for a while, I forgot my cellphone" (9/9/02)
Stan Hunt: Man coming home from work with bird on his head says to wife: "I made a new friend today.” (11/16/87)
Or Steven Wright, indirectly on the Small World phenomenon: "It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to have to paint it."
if you've seen other social capital-related cartoons/jokes, please let us know about them.