The impact of social capital on well-being in rural communities Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9c67wq705

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  • This study seeks to explore the relationship between social capital and well-being in the rural Western United States. Mixed methods were employed to understand the concepts from multiple angles, using both profile and process indicators. An econometric approach used profile indicators and relied on data from 414 counties in the Western United States. A case study approach used process indicators and relied primarily on qualitative data from three rural communities and their respective counties in Washington State. Results from the econometric approach indicated that social capital is not a significant factor in determining poverty rates, one indicator of community well-being. Poverty rates were similarly shown to not be significant in explaining social capital levels in a community. The econometric approach tested a variety of model estimators, including ordinary least squares, two stage least squares, and two stage least squares with spatially lagged dependent variables and spatially correlated error terms. The results underscore the importance of accounting for simultaneity and spatial dimensions in studies of community well-being. Because many factors that contribute to well-being are jointly determined with well-being and indicators of well-being are frequently spatially clustered, this situation is likely to be more common than has been typically recognized in the literature. The depth of the case study findings enhance our understanding of the impacts of social capital on community well-being by dividing the concept of social capital into three types, making it clear that simple aggregation of civic organizations or evidence of civic behavior is insufficient to understand the scales at which social capital works. More social capital is not necessarily better. Generally, interviewees stressed the importance of bridging social capital to achieve community-wide desired outcomes. Yet, strong bonding and bridging social capital had no potency when linking social capital with key powerbrokers was absent. Although the econometric results did not indicate a significant relationship between social capital and poverty rates, the case study approach revealed social capital to be a critical ingredient in the resolution of diverse economic opportunities and disturbances. Finally, the case study approach revealed how social capital is created and can be built up or depleted. My hope is that the findings are useful for community development practitioners, rural community leaders, and public land managers that interface with rural communities.
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