Social capital harmonised principle

Policy details

Metadata item Details
Publication date:4 December 2019
Author:Oliver Nixon
Approver:William Perks
Who this is for:Users and producers of statistics
Type:Harmonisation guidance and principles

What is harmonisation?

Harmonisation is the process of making statistics and data more comparable, consistent and coherent. This harmonised principle sets out how to collect and report statistics to ensure comparability across different data collections in the Government Statistical Service (GSS). This produces more useful statistics that give users a greater level of understanding about this topic.

What do we mean by social capital?

Social capital is a topic of interest across government. It describes the pattern and intensity of networks among people and the shared values in those networks. Definitions of social capital vary, but the main aspects include:

  • trust and cooperative norms
  • social network support
  • civic engagement
  • personal relationships

Research shows that higher levels of social capital are beneficial. They are associated with better outcomes in health, education, employment and crime rates.

Our progress

In November 2019, the social well-being team at the Office for National Statistics released analysis that sought to achieve a short social capital indicator set.

In March 2020, we took our work to a topic group to get feedback on our progress so far. We used this feedback to put together a proposal for the harmonised principle.

In September 2020, we presented our proposal to the topic group. We are now making some further changes and will then begin to test the questions.

If your department is interested in this project and would like to take part in the development process, please contact us.


We are always interested in hearing from users so we can develop our work. If you use or produce statistics based on this topic, get in touch:

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