Social capital: Scandanavia vs Anglo Saxons

My friend Julian Burton emailed me a link to this article by David Halpern at the RSA website. He looks at social capital and suggests we pay more attention to it as an indicator of national well-being.

There’s a lot to chew on there but this bit particularly caught my eye: Halpern looks at one of the indicators of social capital the reported likelihood of a citizen thinking “most people can be trusted”. Whilst this has fallen over the years in America and parts of Europe it’s gone the other way in Scandanavia. He argues:

In essence, we Anglo-Saxons have spent the past few decades using our growing personal wealth to escape from the inconvenience of other people. To use an everyday example, we buy several TVs so that even our own children don’t have to negotiate with each other about what to watch. We use our wealth to ensure that we can do what we want, when we want to. In contrast, our Scandinavian neighbours seem to have used their wealth to see more of one another – to go out with friends, to join more reading groups and so on.


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