Community SOCIAL CAPITAL measured for the first time in WNY!
Preliminary Findings to be released in late Spring 2017!
Buffalo, N.Y. July 6, 2015 – The nonprofit Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo is pleased to announce their new social capital initiative. The Wellness Institute is teaming up with Buffalo State College to measure community well-being through the lens of Social capital.. Leading the team is the Institute’s Director of Social Capital initiatives, James Quinn and the Wellness Institute’s Executive Director, Phil Haberstro. Academic support is being provided by Buffalo State’s Dr. Scott Roberts of the Health and Wellness Department and Jon Slaughter our statistics professional who will be heading the project’s analysis. After extensive research, the team decided to measure community well-being by measuring the asset known as social capital. The confidential survey is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/Connected716 Social capital is considered by many researchers as “the glue that holds society together.” The formal definition of social capital is “the features of social life, networks, norms, and trust that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives (Robert Putnam, Harvard University).”
Increasingly over the past decades, social researchers have studied how social capital effects the community. Studies have documented that social capital plays a vital role in health, happiness, community safety, and economic prosperity. A 2003 Chicago study noted that mortality rates of all types dropped in geographic areas with higher levels of social capital. Researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Yale University have found evidence that social capital in the form of community pride significantly reduces gun violence and street crime. Researchers have conducted numerous empirical studies that highlight that the presence of social capital creates a better economic environment for businesses and citizens alike. This is a direct result of the greater cultivation of human capital or working skills and the spread of information such as employment opportunities that strong networks of social capital create (Coleman, Columbia University).
Strong networks between social circles, or bridging social capital, allow information about health, employment, and community services to flow more effectively through a community. Strong networks of social capital also contributes to our trust. That is, our general trust in others like our colleagues, and especially our trust in our neighbors. Without trust, collaboration is virtually impossible. Since community well-being plays such a vital role in our health, happiness, economic sustainability, and our ability to collaborate to solve local issues, the Wellness Institute has made measuring social capital a key priority so our community can manage and improve our stock of social capital. Buffalo is indeed in a renaissance, so growth must be done intelligently if we are to sustain our new found community strength. Buffalo is considered by many to be the “City of good neighbors.” In a lot of ways, this study is exploring this very notion. Given the amount of evidence in recent studies, living in an area with good neighbors is highly beneficial. Your well-being may even depend on it!