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Social Capital across Residential Communities in China

Yuming Fu and Xu Yuan

July 2013, English

Data from 2005 China General Social Survey show that the extent to which individuals are acquainted with, and trust, their neighbors, to which they are interested and involved in community affairs, and the frequency at which they exchange help with their neighbors, vary considerably across residential neighborhoods. Analysis shows that the variation is overwhelmingly due to differential social influences as opposed to different individual attributes. These social influences are found to be less positive in more affluent cities and in cities with greater income and education disparity within individual residential neighborhoods but appear unaffected by urban density. These findings highlight the need for policy attention to manage the potential decline in social capital with rising affluence and income inequality in Chinese cities at a time when social capital is much need for building new urban communities.

Keywords: People’s Republic of China, Urban, Suburban, Public Policy, Development