The economic crisis has represented a serious reversal for numerous countries and individuals that have seen their improvement paths cut short by economic losses and rising unemployment. In many cases the failure of expectations has undermined trust in institutions.
This publication, by Francisco Pérez, Ivie research director and Professor of the Universitat de València, in collaboration with Lorenzo Serrano and Juan Fernández de Guevara, both professors from the Universitat de València and Ivie researchers, examines the effects of the crisis on various aspects of social capital, seen here as a multidimensional construct. On the one hand, it analyzes its economic side with a methodology developed by the authors, updating the Fundación BBVA-Ivie social capital series for the OECD countries plus, in Spain’s case, the autonomous regions and provinces. On the other, it considers civic participation, trust in people and institutions and the density of social networks, using Eurobarometer data to analyze changes in these social capital dimensions.
Among its conclusions is that economic outcomes affect many dimensions of social capital, including those to do with levels of activity and others such as trust in public institutions. Waning expectations of material improvement as a consequence of the crisis have harmed the reputation of public institutions and reduced people’s willingness to cooperate. By contrast, other dimensions like interpersonal trust, civic participation or social network density have held up more strongly.
Other messages found in this study are:
- Spain is the OECD country in which social capital decreased more strongly between 2007 and 2011, and is located at 22.7%
- The countries where social capital has been more reduced are those hit hardest by the crisis (Spain, Ireland, and Greece, among others)
- In general, social capital has been destroyed in all of Spain’s regions and provinces, but especially intense in the Canary Islands, Murcia, Castile-La Mancha, La Rioja and Valencia, where it fell at a rate higher than 25%
- The crisis has unevenly affected the different dimensions of social capital: trust in people in general and in law enforcement institutions (police) has increased, while trust in political (political parties and Parliament) and judicial institutions has decreased more than 25%
- Civic participation and number of volunteers in associations have increased during the crisis. For example, the signing of petitions has increased 24% and voluntary work has gone up 26%
- To recover the path of sustainable growth in Spain is a difficult task if it continues trapped in a vicious cycle of lack of trust and unwillingness to cooperate