Social vs financial capital

This morning’s email brought notification of this new working paper, Social Capital and Attitudes Toward Money. On a quick first read, its finding is rather interesting – in a sample of 634 Russians aged 20-59, there’s a clear negative correlation between civic identification and concern to get more money. To quote the summary:

Attitudes toward money as a means of influence and protection and the desire to accumulate it reflect a personal sense of dependency on money and lead to constant concern about it. A greater social capital, by providing social support that serves as an alternative source of security, influence, and protection, may reduce this dependence on money. An important finding of our research has been that the component of social capital that correlated most frequently and strongly with monetary attitudes, was civic identity.

This is a small sample in a distinctive country, but it reminded me of one of my all-time favourite social science books, Eric Klinenberg’s Heatwave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. He compared ‘excess deaths’ (ie. above the level you would normally expect) in different neighbourhoods of Chicago in a heatwave, controlling for income levels and other poverty indicators. Similar neighbourhoods that differed only in their ethnic composition had different rates: there were significantly more ‘excess deaths’ in African-American than in Hispanic neighbourhoods, due to the stronger family and community support in the latter.

(I’ve not read Klinenberg’s latest, the best-sellingĀ Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone – the reviews were a bit sniffy about it. But I probably should, given how good Heatwave is.)

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