Trust can be considered a proxy measure of social capital in a community. Trust is essential in forming social networks and groups within a community, and allows for greater social engagement.

Social capital “refers to the institutions, relationships, and norms that shape the quality and quantity of a society’s social interactions. Increasing evidence shows that social cohesion is critical for societies to prosper economically and for development to be sustainable. Social capital is not just the sum of the institutions which underpin a society – it is the glue that holds them together.

Source: The World Bank Group, 2011
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Social Capital and Belonging, Leadership and Community Engagement in Niagara, 2011
Research studies have linked social capital with many community variables such as safety, security, community engagement, social participation and economic involvement; (Bourdieu, 1986; Coleman, 1988; Grootaert & Van Bastelear, 2002; Portes, 1998; Putnam, 2001; Van Kemenade, 2001).

In this study, age, gender, income, education, marital status and geographic population density variables were measured using a quantitative survey of those people living within the boundaries of the Niagara Region in Ontario, Canada in 2011. This research and its findings provide some beneficial information to potentially inform health promotion and health planning, in relation to Social Capital and belonging, leadership and community engagement.

Those with the lowest mean scores of trust, safety and community engagement were respondents in the 20-29 years of age range and those that reported that they were single, female and were in school or unemployed.

Those with the highest scores were those that were employed part-time or retired. They consistently had higher mean scores of all component levels with the exception of collection action. College / Trade School educated participants also reported higher levels of community engagement and collective action. Those in the 60-69 age range reported higher levels of reciprocity and collective action.

Source: A Quantitative Study of Social Capital Components, Self Reported Health Status and Social Determinants of Health, Karen Cudmore, Brock University, August 2012
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