The Utah Foundation launched its Social Capital Series in 2021. This project consists of a series of reports and may culminate in an index of Utah’s social capital. The reports include more than 30 metrics compared over time and against Utah’s neighboring Mountain States and the nation.


About Social Capital

What is Social Capital?

Simply put, social capital refers to the bonds between people and among networks, which they can use to benefit themselves and the group as a whole.

Economists often measure physical capital (things that are used to make other things) and human capital (the skills and labor of employees). Similarly, social scientists seek to measure how people and groups can use individual networks and community groups to change the world around them.

Social capital can provide individual benefits, such as helping an individual find a job, helping a family access additional resources from friends or family during a stressful economic time, or participating in a group to learn new skills or advance existing ones. Social capital can also be leveraged to change a community. This could be directly through volunteering in a project that benefits the community, or indirectly by encouraging your network to influence a legislator.

Why is Social Capital Important?

Social capital stands in the shadows of a wide variety of public policy and economic concerns.

Low levels of social capital often lead to poor economic and social outcomes, both for individuals and for populations. Policymakers seek to ameliorate these poor outcomes through endeavors that span educational efforts, election reforms, public assistance programs and law enforcement interventions. As social capital declines, the challenges become more acute – and social scientists across the political spectrum affirm that social capital in the U.S. is in long-term decline.

In places where social capital is comparatively robust, it can translate into heightened economic prospects and lower demands on the public sector.