Social capital and its impact on poverty reduction: measurement issues in longitudinal and cross-country comparisons. Towards a unified framework in the European Union
While there is widespread consensus that social capital contributes significantly to development outcomes - growth, equity and poverty alleviation - and that it represents a significant determinant of household well-being, the same cannot be said of its measurement criteria. Different strategies and statistical methods have been used so far to define appropriate measures of social capital so that assessing its effects on household economic well-being lacks of a unified and a systematic methodological approach. Given the particular relevance of the topic, this paper aims to provide a unified framework for social capital measurement in the context of European Union because of its strong commitment in the fight against poverty (Bruxelles, 13.10.2011- COM(2011) 637 final - Increasing the impact of E.U. Development Policy: an Agenda for Change). In particular, the paper starts with a short review of the concept of social capital and of the main proxy indicators proposed so far to measure it when the aim is to evaluate its impact on poverty reduction; then it turns to issues in measurement and finally explores the currently available surveys and databases at European level in order to identify the appropriate proxy indicators of social capital. Specific attention will be devoted to the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) and to Eurostat statistic database, as regards, respectively, individual/household and community social capital endowment.
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