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

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? Zealand

  • 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 Zealand

  • 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 Zealand

  • “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 Zealand

  • 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 Zealand

  • 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 Zealand

  • 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 Zealand

  • 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

Behaviours Zealand

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: Zealand

    • 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 Zealand

  • 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 Zealand

    • 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

Dimensions Zealand

  • Examples

    • Number of organisations

    • Service organisations

    • Sports clubs

    • Marae (Meeting place)

    • 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 Zealand

  • 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 Zealand

  • 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 Zealand

  • 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 Zealand

  • 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 Zealand

  • Myself


  • Principal Statistician, Social and Population Group


  • Australia

    • Assistant Director, Family and Community Statistics Section


    • Director, Family and Community Statistics Section