Social Capital in Mecklenburg County

Social capital refers to refers to the material resources or non-material benefits arising from our social relationships and networks. In 2019, the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute partnered with Leading on Opportunity, Opportunity Insights, Foundation for the Carolinas, Communities in Schools, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, and SHARE Charlotte, with additional funding from The Gambrell Foundation, to conduct a new baseline measurement of social capital in Mecklenburg County.

[Social trust: What is it, and who has it in Charlotte-Mecklenburg?]

The 2019 Social Capital Survey consisted of a 400-person sample that was demographically representative of Mecklenburg County. Key findings from the 2019 Social Capital Survey are:

· African Americans were about twice as likely to receive financial support and or career connections as White respondents. These findings reflect the potential role of informal networks in minority communities, who have been historically and currently excluded from access to formal wealth-creation opportunities as a result of discriminatory housing, economic, and criminal justice policies.

· At the same time, African Americans were more likely to have lower trust of neighbors, police, and people in their community than White respondents. This is likely influenced by experiences of discrimination and marginalization in the African American community, which could shape willingness to trust in those outside one’s close social circle.

· Volunteers had higher trust of people in their community than those who had not volunteered in the last year.

· Respondents with lower trust in community and lower trust in other races were more likely to rely on family for support.

· Overall, family members were the most important source of help for survey respondents.

· Respondents with a high school degree or less were statistically less likely to receive human or social capital than those with at least some college education.

Click on the titles to read the briefs.

Social Trust Data Brief
Social trust (or trust in neighbors, institutions, and general society) is linked to relationship building and is one indicator of social capital. This data brief looks at how social trust varies by race, ethnicity, age, income, and education in Mecklenburg County.

Giving and Receiving Support Data Brief
Another measure of social capital is the giving and receiving of different types of support, including financial, non-financial, education and career advice, and connections. This data brief looks at the demographic trends in giving and receiving support in Mecklenburg County.

Bridging and Bonding Relationships
An individual’s network can contain multiple kinds of relationships. Bonding relationships are characterized by strong ties among people with similar backgrounds or characteristics. Bridging relationships are looser ties among people from different cross-sections of society. Both types of relationships are important. Scholars have described bonding relationships as those most often used for day-to-day sources of support, including sharing information about job opening and providing referrals. Bridging relationships can create access to opportunities beyond what is available in an individual’s immediate social circle, which may create more opportunity for upward economic mobility. This data brief examines the role of bridging and bonding relationships among Mecklenburg County residents.

Volunteerism and participation in voluntary organizations are important avenues of connecting people from different cross-sections of society (bridging relationships). This data brief looks at the demographic trends in volunteerism, including barriers to volunteerism, in Mecklenburg County.