New research suggests communities with a high amount of social capital – what experts refer to as interconnectedness and communal trust – experienced less severe outbreaks of coronavirus in 2020, writes Christopher Ingraham for The Washington Post.
Research by Christos Makridis of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cary Wu of York University in Toronto and published in the scientific journal PLOS One assesses whether the level of social capital in a community predicts the severity of the pandemic there.
That index ranked Montgomery County as having the 2nd highest amount of social capital in Pennsylvania, out of 67 counties.
Nationally, Montgomery County ranked 683 out of 2,992 counties, in the 78th percentile.
Montgomery County has had fewer COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related deaths than Berks, Bucks, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Philadelphia counties.
Social capital refers to “features of social organization, such as networks, norms, and trust, that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit.”
“The index used by the researchers was developed by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee.
Their research considers factors like family structure, parental behaviors, social ties, political engagement, trust in institutions, crime, and charitable giving.
“When individuals have a greater concern for others,” Makridis and Wu concluded, “they are more willing to follow hygienic practices and social distancing.”
Click here to read more about how social factors have been inoculating some communities against coronavirus in The Washington Post.