Social Capital Oscillations in Times of Economic Crisis: The Case of European Democracies

Research question/goal: 

The project set out to examine the extent to which severe economic shocks can affect levels of social capital. Focusing on Europe, our study was especially interested in investigating how changes in social capital levels differ when the strength of countries’ institutions is taken into account. Data analyses for the project took two directions.

The first one involved an analysis of time-series data from the European Social Survey (ESS) on social and political trust. The objective was to detect the oscillations of social capital levels in 27 European countries using a number of “crisis” indicators, such as unemployment rate and GDP growth. The findings show the importance of existing institutional settings – countries with stronger institutions were far better shielded, as it were, from the corrosive effects of economic strain.

The second direction involved looking at Greece as a specific case. The objective was to explore whether the crisis facing the country has important socio-political roots - not just economic - emphasising issues related to social and institutional trust. The outcome of this investigation, which largely confirmed that the crisis in Greece is as much social and political as it is economic, was published in "Representation".

Fact sheet

2013 to 2015
Data Sources: 
survey, macro-indicators
Geographic Space: