Evolution of Social Capital - Insights
Income inequality, rapid urbanization and social exclusion of migrants are some examples of gaps related to social capital.
Gaps and opportunities in education
- Students' success depends on their social class. This has been brought up in several studies and articles (examples can be found here, here and here). Income differences seem to affect student's educational opportunities the most, as school systems often provide less funding to higher-poverty school districts.
- Poor quality of education in schools and universities causes students to lack desired soft skills when entering the job market. There appears to be a misunderstanding between employers and education systems surrounding skills they need and skills that are taught in schools. Education systems can address these gaps by implementing work-based learning and relationships.
- Some studies have also found that student performance takes root in early childhood, in that children who achieve poor results in the earliest years often have trouble achieving better results later in education. These effects can be mitigated by greater investments in pre-K education systems, as well as by engaging parents in the education process.
- Social capital is a set of values that enables a community to achieve a common purpose. This issue is a gap in social capital because it creates positive consequences for a part of the community, but at the same time, it creates negative effects for another part of the community. Addressing this issue creates an opportunity for development of social capital.
Health and poverty
- Economic inequality is linked to disparities in health and life expectancy. One study found that high-income individuals live almost 6 years longer than low-income individuals.
- Individuals living in low-income households are four times more likely to feel nervous and 5 times more likely to feel sad compared to high-income individuals. Children living in poverty face adverse consequences related to nutrition, chronic illnesses and environmental exposures.
- Another study found that low-income middle-aged men are around three times more susceptible to dying and becoming disabled, compared to high-income individuals in the US (17% and 48% for low-income individuals, versus 5% and 15% for those with high income).
- Among other causes, factors for these inequalities are lower access to healthcare among those living in poverty, higher prevalence of risk factors such as smoking, obesity and substance use in poorer communities, as well as lack of access to basic means for living such as water and electricity. Addressing these issues, particularly in childhood, can reduce poverty and thus mitigate the health inequality across communities.
- Social capital is a set of values that enables a community to achieve a common purpose. In this case, access to health and health in general differ across income groups, meaning the community isn't achieving a common purpose. Addressing this gap is an opportunity to improve health across all members of a community, meaning social capital is improved.
Social exclusion of migrants in Europe
- In Europe, children with migrant backgrounds are at high risk of growing up and living in poverty, not succeeding in school and being socially excluded. These issues can be mitigated in the following ways:  providing proper education,  building students' workforce skills, and  inclusion of migrants and fighting discrimination.
- In Europe, however, there isn't enough research on how to effectively provide support and education to migrants. Many existing intervention programs don't target migrants directly, making them less effective specifically for migrants. Many international migrant inclusion programs, such as Job Corps in the United States, haven't yet been tested in Europe.
- This insight is not only an opportunity, but also a need and a gap in social capital. Implementation of the identified ways would address the need for social inclusion of migrants in Europe, which would improve social capital. At the same time, there is a gap in understanding how to approach these issues.
Income inequality in some countries
- South Africa is the world's most unequal country in terms of income. The 40% of the wealthiest South Africans own 93% of the country's assets. This negatively impacts the rest of the population, who live in poverty.
- Apart from income disparities, high unemployment is also affecting the country. 27% of South Africans are unemployed, compared to 4% of the US population.
- Among countries with the biggest income disparities are also Brazil, Mexico and China. In the US, the income gap is growing, meaning that those living in poverty keep earning less, while high-income individuals keep earning more money.
- These disparities are creating gaps in social capital as individuals who earn less money have access to fewer opportunities and are at higher risk of entering poverty.
- The rapid population of the world's cities creates challenges for the safety of the residents. Aging buildings and pollution are some factors that are negatively impacting urban dwellers' safety.
- In October 2016, various countries endorsed a standard for sustainable urban development, called New Urban Agenda, which addresses the issues of climate change, among other things. This is an example of an opportunity in social capital, as individuals have collaborated to achieve a common purpose, in this case, reducing safety risks for dwellers of rapidly developing urban areas.