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OECD Insights: What is Social Capital

The concept of social capital became fashionable only relatively recently, but the term has been in use for almost a century while the ideas behind it go back further still. “Social capital” may first have appeared in a book published in 1916 in the United States that dis- cussed how neighbours could work together to oversee schools. Author Lyda Hanifan referred to social capital as “those tangible assets [that] count for most in the daily lives of people: namely goodwill, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse among the individuals and families who make up a social unit”.

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