copy the linklink copied!16. Social Capital

Social Capital is about the social norms, shared values and institutional arrangements that foster co-operation among population groups. Around one in six people in OECD countries volunteer at least once a month through formal organisations (such as charities). When people are asked about their trust on a scale from 0 (no trust) to 10 (complete trust), the average score for trust in others is 6.1, and 6.3 for trust in the police. Less than half of OECD populations (43%) trust their government. Governments score 2.2 (out of 4) for formally engaging citizens when developing laws. For perceived public sector corruption, on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), the average OECD country scores 67. Gender parity in politics has not yet been achieved: women hold just 28% of parliamentary seats. Compared to 2010, progress on Social Capital has been slow or stagnant for OECD countries on average.

    
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Figure 16.1. Social Capital snapshot: current levels, and direction of change since 2010
Figure 16.1. Social Capital snapshot: current levels, and direction of change since 2010

Note: The snapshot depicts data for 2018, or the latest available year, for each indicator. The colour of the circle indicates the direction of change, relative to 2010, or the closest available year: improvement is shown in blue, deterioration in orange, and no clear or consistent change in grey, and insufficient time series to determine trends in white. For each indicator, the OECD country with the lowest (on the left) and highest (on the right) well-being level are labelled, along with the OECD average. For full details of the methodology, see the Reader’s Guide.

Source: European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) (database), https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/income-and-living-conditions; Stats NZ customised report and licensed by Stats NZ for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence (2017); OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) (database), https://oecd.org/skills/piaac; Gallup World Poll (database), https://gallup.com/analytics/232838/world-poll.aspx; OECD Indicators of Regulatory Policy and Governance (iREG) (database), http://oe.cd/ireg; OECD Women in politics (database), https://data.oecd.org/inequality/women-in-politics.htm and Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2018 (database), https://transparency.org/cpi2018.

copy the linklink copied!Volunteering through organisations

On average 1 in 6 people in OECD countries volunteer at least once a month through an established organisation, such as a charity, political party, trade union or other non-profit entity (Figure 16.2). This share is substantially higher in Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States, where more than a quarter of the population routinely engages in voluntary work, but much lower in Lithuania and Turkey, where only 1 in 16 people do.

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Figure 16.2. One in six people volunteer regularly through formal organisations
Share of the working-age population who declared having volunteered through an organisation at least once a month over the preceding year, percentage, around 2012
Figure 16.2. One in six people volunteer regularly through formal organisations

Note: Data refer to 2011-12 for Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Poland, the Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom;, 2012 for France; 2014-15 for Chile, Greece, Israel, Lithuania, New Zealand, Slovenia and Turkey; and 2017 for Mexico, Hungary and the United States. Data for Belgium refer to Flanders, those for England and Northern Ireland are reported separately. Data for the Russian Federation exclude the Moscow municipal area. The OECD average includes both England and Northern Ireland and a simple average of the 2012-14 and 2017 data collection waves for the United States (28.5%, not shown here). It excludes Colombia, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal and Switzerland, due to a lack of available data.

Source: OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) (database), https://oecd.org/skills/piaac.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934082993

copy the linklink copied!Trust in others

Among OECD countries, average trust in other people is 6.1 on a scale of 0 (you do not trust anyone) to 10 (most people can be trusted) (Figure 16.3). The Nordic countries report mean scores above 7, compared to interpersonal trust levels below 5 in Turkey and France.

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Figure 16.3. Trust in others is highest in the Nordic countries
Mean score, on a scale from 0 (not at all) to 10 (completely), 2013
Figure 16.3. Trust in others is highest in the Nordic countries

Note: Data for New Zealand (shown in grey) refer to 2014 and relies on a question that asks about people in New Zealand, rather than people in general, which might bias results upward. The OECD average excludes Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico and the United States, due to a lack of available data.

Source: European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) (database), https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/income-and-living-conditions and Stats NZ, customised report and licensed by Stats NZ for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence (2017).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934083012

copy the linklink copied!Trust in institutions: police

When it comes to trust in institutions, the average score for trust in the police among people in OECD countries is 6.3 (on a scale where 0 means no trust at all and 10 means complete trust) (Figure 16.4). As with interpersonal trust, trust in the police is highest in the Nordic countries, where the average score exceeds 7, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. By contrast, people in the Czech Republic, Greece and the Slovak Republic report comparatively low trust in the police, with mean scores at or below 5.

copy the linklink copied!Trust in institutions: national government

Less than half of the population in the average OECD country (43%) trust their national government. But this represents a slight improvement from the level (40%) recorded in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2010-12 (Figure 16.5). Indeed, after a general deterioration post-2008, trust in government has now rebounded to just below 2006 pre-crisis values in a quarter of OECD countries. The largest increases compared to 2010-12, of more than 15 percentage points, occurred in the Czech Republic, Ireland and Japan. Meanwhile, falls of more than 10 percentage points were seen in Chile, and 20 percentage points in Colombia. Overall, trust in the national government is highest (at 65% or more) in Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland, and lowest (at 25% or less) in Colombia, Italy, Greece and Slovenia.

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Figure 16.4. Average trust in the police is 6.3 out of 10
Mean score, on a scale from 0 (not at all) to 10 (completely), 2013
Figure 16.4. Average trust in the police is 6.3 out of 10

Note: Data for New Zealand refer to 2014. The OECD average excludes Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico and the United States, due to a lack of available data.

Source: European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) (database), https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/income-and-living-conditions and Stats NZ, customised report and licensed by Stats NZ for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence (2017).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934083031

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Figure 16.5. Since 2010, trust in government has rebounded in a quarter of OECD countries
Share of the population responding “yes” to a question about confidence in the national government, percentage
Figure 16.5. Since 2010, trust in government has rebounded in a quarter of OECD countries

Source: Gallup World Poll (database), https://gallup.com/analytics/232838/world-poll.aspx.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934083050

copy the linklink copied!Government stakeholder engagement

Governments’ engagement with stakeholders is critical to improve the design, implementation and review of laws. The extent to which OECD countries have systematically adopted formal stakeholder engagement practices when developing laws, on a scale from 0 (no engagement) to 4 (maximum engagement) ranges from 1.3 in Hungary to 3.2 in Mexico. Generally, stakeholder engagement is higher in relation to primary laws (which provide a framework for the resolution of public policy problems) than for subordinate regulations (which focus on operationalisation) (OECD, 2018[1]).The overall average level of government stakeholder engagement has increased since 2014, from 2 to 2.2 (Figure 16.6). Improvements are particularly strong in Italy, Israel and the Slovak Republic (with increases of more than 1.3 points, driven mainly by better engagement on primary laws). This contrasts with the declines recorded in the Czech Republic (by 0.3 points), Turkey (0.5) and Spain (0.7) – all countries in the bottom third of the OECD ranking.

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Figure 16.6. Average government stakeholder engagement improved since 2014, but fell in some countries with already weaker performance
Government stakeholder engagement when developing primary laws and subordinate regulations, 0 (no engagement) – 4 (maximum engagement) scale
Figure 16.6. Average government stakeholder engagement improved since 2014, but fell in some countries with already weaker performance

Note: The sub-component scores for primary laws cover practices only in the executive. There is therefore no score for primary laws for the United States, where all primary laws are exclusively initiated by Congress. In Colombia, Costa Rica, Korea and Mexico, a majority of primary laws are initiated by the legislature. The OECD average excludes Colombia, Latvia and Lithuania, due to incomplete time series.

Source: OECD Indicators of Regulatory Policy and Governance (iREG) (database), http://oe.cd/ireg.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934083069

copy the linklink copied!Gender parity in politics

On average, women held 28% of parliamentary seats in the OECD in 2017, only slightly up from 26% in 2012. Even in Iceland, the country with the highest share of women in politics, complete gender parity has not yet been achieved. Women’s presence is parliament was lowest in Japan (at 9.3% of seats) and highest in Iceland (at 47.3%) (Figure 16.7). Between 2012 and 2017, the share of women in parliament increased in almost one-third of OECD countries. It rose by more than 7 percentage points in Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom. By contrast, it fell for the Latvian parliament, which now features 7 percentage points fewer female MPs.

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Figure 16.7. Politics have become more inclusive of women, but gender parity has not been achieved
Share of women in national parliament, lower or single houses, percentage
Figure 16.7. Politics have become more inclusive of women, but gender parity has not been achieved

Note: The latest available year is 2015 for Colombia and 2014 for Brazil, Costa Rica, the Russian Federation and South Africa.

Source: OECD Women in politics (database), https://data.oecd.org/inequality/women-in-politics.htm and Statistics Lithuania (2017), https://osp.stat.gov.lt/services-portlet/pub-edition-file?id=30580.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934083088

copy the linklink copied!Corruption

According to the assessments of experts and business people in Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perception Index, the OECD average level of corruption in the public sector is 67, on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (the total absence of corruption). By this measure, perceived public sector integrity is highest in Nordic countries, Switzerland and New Zealand (with scores between 84 and 88) and lowest in Colombia, Greece, Hungary, Mexico and Turkey (with scores below 50) (Figure 16.8). The OECD average has remained stable since 2012, but this masks clear progress in controlling corruption in some countries (with gains of 9 points or more in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Italy and Latvia) and significant declines in others (with falls of around 8 points in Australia, Turkey and Hungary).

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Figure 16.8. On average, perceived corruption has remained stable since 2012
Corruption Perception Index, 0 (highly corrupt) – 100 (very clean) scale
Figure 16.8. On average, perceived corruption has remained stable since 2012

Note: * indicates significant change since 2012 (90% confidence level, calculated by Transparency International).

Source: Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2018 (database), https://transparency.org/cpi2018.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934083107

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Box 16.1. Measurement and the statistical agenda ahead

Social Capital is about a society’s networks, norms and shared values that foster co-operation among different groups. Information on expectations of other people and public institutions (trust), engagement in activities that contribute to civic and community life (volunteering), and aspects of governance and the institutional arrangements that set the framework conditions for generating Social Capital (government stakeholder engagement, integrity, gender equality in decision-making) is presented here (Table 16.1).

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Table 16.1. Social Capital indicators considered in this chapter

Indicator

Unit of measurement

Stock

Flow

Risk factor

Resilience factor

Volunteering through organisations

Share of the working-age population who declared having volunteered through an organisation at least once a month over the preceding year

Trust in others

Mean score, on a scale from 0 (you do not trust any other person) to 10(most people can be trusted)

Trust in the police

Mean score, on a scale from 0 (no trust at all) to 10 (complete trust)

Trust in government

Proportion of the population responding “yes” to a question about confidence in the national government

Government stakeholder engagement

0-4 scale, based on the OECD Regulatory Indicators Survey

Gender parity in politics

Share of women in the national lower or single houses of parliament

Corruption

Corruption Perception Index score on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean)

Volunteering through organisations is measured through a single question in the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) which asks respondents, “In the last 12 months, how often, if at all, did you do voluntary work, including unpaid work for a charity, political party, trade union or other non-profit organisation?” with response categories “never”, “less than once a month”, “less than once a week but at least once a month”, “at least once a week but not every day” and “every day”. The data shown refer to the share of adults aged 16-65 who declared having volunteered at least once a month.

Trust in others is based on a variant of the survey question: “And now a general question about trust. In general, how much do you trust most people?” Respondents answer using an 11 point scale, ranging from 0 (“Not at all”) to 10 (“Completely”). Comparable data for the population aged 16 or above is available for European countries via Eurostat’s EU-SILC ad hoc modules on well-being and for New Zealand via Stats NZ’s General Social Survey. From 2021 onwards, Eurostat plans to ask about trust in others in its annual EU-SILC core module.

Trust in the police is based on a variant of the survey question: “How much do you personally trust each of the following institutions…the police”, which respondents answer using an 11 point scale, ranging from 0 (“Not at all”) to 10 (“Completely”). Comparable data for the population aged 16 or above is available for European countries via Eurostat’s EU-SILC ad hoc modules on well-being and via Stats NZ’s General Social Survey.

Trust in government is based on the survey question: “In this country, do you have confidence in each of the following, or not? … How about national government?” The data shown reflect the share of respondents answering “yes” (the other response categories being “no”, and “don’t know”) and are averaged over a three year period. Information is sourced via the annual Gallup World Poll, which samples around 1 000 people per country each year. For country averages, data are pooled over all available years for a three year period (e.g. 2016-18) to improve the accuracy of the estimates. The sample is ex ante designed to be nationally representative of the population aged 15 and over.

Government stakeholder engagement measures whether countries have adopted stakeholder engagement practices and require them to be consulted when developing new regulations. Data comes from responses to the OECD’s Indicators of Regulatory Policy and Governance questionnaire, which asks government officials about four aspects of stakeholder engagement (systematic adoption of stakeholder engagement requirements, consultation methodology, transparency, oversight and quality control) (Arndt et al., 2015[2]). For both primary laws and subordinate regulations, a composite indicator with a maximum score of four (maximum score of one for each aspect) is computed. The indicator reported in this chapter is the simple average of the primary laws and subordinate regulations composite indicators.

Gender parity in politics refers to the share of women among elected members of the national lower or single houses of parliament. Data are sourced from the OECD International Development Statistics: Gender, Institutions and Development database.

Corruption is measured via Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which ranks countries based on how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be by experts and business executives. The CPI is a composite index that combines information from 13 surveys and expert assessments from 12 independent institutions specialising in governance and business climate analysis to arrive at a score from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

Correlations among indicators of Social Capital

Across OECD countries, most indicators of Social Capital are positively correlated: in countries with high interpersonal trust, more people volunteer, trust in the police is higher, more women are elected to parliament and experts’ perceptions of public sector corruption are lower (Table 16.2). Similarly, in OECD countries with higher trust in the national government, people also tend have more confidence in other public institutions such as the police, and perceived corruption is lower. Women’s participation in the national parliament and perceived corruption are significantly and strongly correlated with almost all the other indicators included in this chapter and are thus, together with interpersonal trust, suitable as leading indicators of a society’s Social Capital as a whole. Government stakeholder engagement is the only measure that does not go hand in hand with other aspects of Social Capital.

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Table 16.2. Trust in other people, the inclusiveness of decision-making and perceived corruption capture many other aspects of Social Capital
Bivariate correlation coefficients among the Social Capital indicators

Volunteering through organisations

Trust in others

Trust in the police

Trust in the national government

Government stakeholder engagement

Gender parity in politics

Corruption

Volunteering through organisations

Trust in others

0.66***

(23)

Trust in the police

0.74***

(23)

0.68***

(28)

Trust in government

0.56***

(32)

0.29

(28)

0.61***

(28)

Government stakeholder engagement

0.13

(31)

0.28

(28)

-0.06

(28)

-0.06

(39)

Gender parity in politics

0.45**

(30)

0.62***

(27)

0.54***

(27)

0.31*

(36)

0.05

(36)

Corruption

0.77***

(32)

0.63***

(28)

0.75***

(28)

0.59***

(41)

0.02

(39)

0.42**

(36)

Note: Values in parenthesis refer to the number of observations. * Indicates that correlations are significant at the p<0.10 level, ** that they are significant at the p<0.05 level, and *** at the p<0.01 level.

Statistical agenda ahead

The recently published OECD Guidelines on Measuring Trust include strong evidence that survey measures of trust are fit for purpose (OECD, 2017[3]). However, this has not yet translated into comparable data collection across many OECD countries. An ideal data set, according to the OECD Guidelines, should consider trust in the political system (i.e. the government, political parties, the parliament), trust in the judicial system (i.e. the police, military, courts) and trust in non-political institutions (i.e. the civil service). Available measures currently remain limited to EU-SILC and New Zealand (for trust in the police) and the non-official Gallup World Poll (for trust in the national government).

Data on volunteering for the majority of OECD countries is currently available via the OECD PIAAC survey, which is run only every 10 years, and whose main data collection waves were last conducted in 2012. Further, the indicator shown here is restricted to engagement via established organisations and potentially neglects more informal forms of contributions for which no internationally comparable data is available.

The share of women in politics is an important indicator of the inclusiveness of decision-making. While it is important to also consider the presence of other typically underrepresented societal groups (e.g. people from different economic or ethnic backgrounds), such measures are not yet available on a frequent and comparable basis for all OECD countries (The Comparative Candidates Survey, 2019[4]).

Information on corruption comes either from expert assessments or household surveys focusing on corruption perceptions or from experiences of bribery. Household surveys are biased towards petty corruption and miss other important and less visible aspects, such as revolving doors, awarding of contracts and tenders and undue lobbying, while expert assessments lack transparency and ignore the perspective of citizens (OECD, 2017[5]). Ideally, it is recommended to rely on multiple measures of corruption to get at its different facets (United Nations Praia City Group, forthcoming[6]). The Sustainable Development Goals acknowledge the importance of integrity through target 16.5 (“Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms”). The custodian agency UNODC recently published methodological guidance on measuring corruption through household surveys (UNODC, 2018[7]) and collects information on the proportion of persons and businesses in a bribery situation during the previous 12 months via the annual UN Crime Trends Survey (drawing on national victimisation surveys). For now, data is available only for a small set of countries.

References

[2] Arndt, C. et al. (2015), “2015 Indicators of Regulatory Policy and Governance: Design, Methodology and Key Results”, OECD Regulatory Policy Working Papers, No. 1, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5jrnwqm3zp43-en.

[1] OECD (2018), OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264303072-en.

[5] OECD (2017), How’s Life? 2017: Measuring Well-being, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/how_life-2017-en.

[3] OECD (2017), OECD Guidelines on Measuring Trust, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264278219-en.

[4] The Comparative Candidates Survey (2019), The Comparative Candidates Survey (CCS), http://comparativecandidates.org/node/1 (accessed on 23 September 2019).

[6] United Nations Praia City Group (forthcoming), Praia City Group Handbook on Governance Statistics.

[7] UNODC (2018), Manual on Corruption Surveys, http://unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/Crime-statistics/CorruptionManual_2018_web.pdf (accessed on 23 September 2019).

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