Framework for the measurement of social capital in new zealand
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Framework for the Measurement of Social Capital in New Zealand. Rachael Milicich General Manager Geography, Regional and Environment. Why measure social capital?.

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Framework for the Measurement of Social Capital in New Zealand

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Framework for the measurement of social capital in new zealand

Framework for the Measurement of Social Capital in New Zealand

Rachael Milicich

General Manager

Geography, Regional and Environment

Why measure social capital

Why measure social capital?

  • Interest from central and local government as agencies expressed interest in determining whether knowledge of social capital could assist them in their work

  • Many people involved in policy development in NZ increasingly recognised that the concept of social capital could contribute to a broader analysis of policy options and issues

Conceptual issues

Conceptual issues

  • Types of capital

    • Human

      • Education, skills and knowledge that reside within individuals

    • Cultural

      • The set of values, history, traditions and behaviours which link a specific group of people together

    • Social

      • The social networks that help society to function effectively

  • Individual vs. collective returns

  • Increase/decrease in social capital

Definition of social capital used

Definition of Social Capital Used

  • “Relationships among actors (individuals, groups, and/or organisations) that create a capacity to act for mutual benefit or a common purpose”

  • It can be accumulated over time and then drawn on in the future for use in achieving certain goals

  • Is a collective resource rather than accruing to an individual

  • Circumstances may result in having access to greater or lesser stocks of a community’s social capital

How is social capital used

How is Social Capital Used

  • Access to social capital can be said to have three key functions:

    • Processing information

    • Assessing risks

    • Exploring situations, individuals and agencies

  • Implications for measurement

    • Focus is on quality and quantity

    • Identify aspects of social life that relate to social capital and can be measured to some extent

Aspects of social capital

Aspects of Social Capital

  • Conceptual framework was based on the work of James Coleman and his theoretical synthesis “Foundations of Social Theory”

  • Coleman (1994) described what it was about social relations that could constitute useful capital resources for individuals.

  • A Maori concept of Social Capital

Development of the framework

Development of the framework

  • Incorporation of key aspects

    • Norms and sanctions

    • Mandate and authority

    • Organisation

    • Sources of information

    • Obligations and expectations

  • Review of work by others internationally

    • Six international research projects chosen and reviewed

Development of the framework1

Development of the framework

  • Stocks and flows

    • Ideally both are required

    • Involves different implications for measurement as well as user requirements

    • Stocks involve determining the various factors that indicate high or low levels of social capital

    • Flows involve measuring the actions that can increase or deplete social capital

    • Stocks was chosen for the framework development as being more important initially

The framework developed


Giving to strangers

Participation in voluntary


Participation in informal networks

Wider interest in society

Community participation

Compliance with rules and norms

The Framework Developed


  • Measures of the propensity people have to:

    • give willingly to strangers

    • give their time to causes

  • Measures of the relationships and interactions with others on an informal basis

  • Measures of who pays attention to what is going on in the world

  • Measure of who takes on responsibilities by complying with rules and by taking responsibility for others



  • Giving to strangers

  • Participation in voluntary organisations

  • Participation in informal networks

  • Wider interest in society

  • Community participation

  • Compliance with rules and norms


  • Range of possible measures

  • Examples include:

    • How you view your place?

    • Whether feel connected to other people?

    • Whether everyone is of equal value?

    • Opinion on the nature of social and political activities

    • Whether you feel safe in your local area?

    • Trust in Parliament

    • Attitudes towards caring, co-operating, tolerance and other “social capital related norms

    • Goals for the future


Attitudes & Values

  • Beliefs about self

  • Attitudes towards others

  • Trust and reciprocity

  • Attitudes to government and other societal institutions

  • Values and norms

  • Outlook for and confidence in the future


  • Examples

    • Sex

    • Age

    • Ethnicity

    • Family type

    • Ages of children

    • Birthplace

    • Religion

    • Labour force status

    • Education

    • Industry

    • Hours of work

    • Health/disability status

    • Language spoken

    • Geographic isolation


Population Groups

  • Demographic

  • Family

  • Cultural

  • Employment

  • Communication



  • Examples

    • Number of organisations

    • Service organisations

    • Sports clubs

    • Marae (Meetingplace)

    • Schools

    • Number of members

    • Number of employees

    • Tiers of management

    • Public access routes into organisation

    • Membership of network, association, other

    • Consultation with the community


  • Number

  • Type

  • Size of "membership"

  • Structure

  • Links and networks

  • Mode of operation

Suggested key indicators

Suggested Key Indicators

  • Trust

    • Degree to which other people or institutions are trusted

    • Degree to which individuals feel they themselves are trusted or valued

  • Civic engagement

  • Voluntary activity

  • Participation

  • Giving

  • Meeting obligations

Suggested key indicators1

Suggested Key Indicators

  • By individual activity (what people do; how they behave)

    • Civic engagement

      • Voting, standing for elections

    • Voluntary activity

      • Volunteering for others - informal or formal

    • Participation

      • In sports, arts, culture (club rather than social service activity)

    • Giving

      • Time, money, blood, information

    • Meeting obligations

      • Family, cultural, religious obligations, paying taxes

Suggested key indicators2

Suggested Key Indicators

  • By opportunities (the presence of institutions that are inducive to the building and use of social capital, ie a social capital rich environment)

    • Voluntary associations, How many? What type?

    • Elected boards and committees versus appointed or bureaucratic management

    • Public meetings – forums for dialogue

Since 2002

Since 2002

  • Focus shifted to measuring social well-being which is measured in the Social Report by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD)

  • Example of Social Well-being outcome and indicators

    Civil and Political Rights


    All people enjoy civil and political rights. Mechanisms

    to regulate and arbitrate people’s rights in respect of

    each other are trustworthy.


    22. Voter turnout*

    23. Representation of women in government*

    24. Perceived discrimination

    25. Perceived corruption

Contact information

Contact information

  • Myself

    • [email protected]

  • Principal Statistician, Social and Population Group

    • [email protected]

  • Australia

    • Assistant Director, Family and Community Statistics Section

    • [email protected]

    • Director, Family and Community Statistics Section

    • [email protected]

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