In 2011, IN members administered the Social Capital Inventory with more than 218 of their service recipients from agencies around the United States and Canada.  The data was analyzed by researchers at the University of Toronto and compared to other broad-based social surveys conducted with the general population. 

Here is what we found: 

Social Trust

  • 82% believe most people are honest
  • 71% believe most people can be trusted 
  • 65% believe most people in the community would try to be helpful
  • 77% wish they had more contact with the people in their community 
  • 60% reported watching TV alone a lot 

 However, neighborhood ties, another form of social trust, were low:

  • 24% have spoken to none of their neighbors in person in the past year
  • 74% have spoken to none of their neighbors on the phone in the past year 
  • 38% know none of their neighbors' names
  • 53% have had none of their neighbors in their home in the past year
  • 54% feel they have little to nothing in common with those in their neighborhood




Social Support


Available support systems are an important component of social capital. This may include emotional support (having someone to turn to during difficult times) as well as instrumental support (more tangible resources such as a ride to work or borrowing lunch money). Typically, people turn to close friends and family (particularly spouses or partners) for this type of support. IN respondents tend to have atypical sources of support such as parents and professionals. 

81% have someone to count on for emotional support:

  • 39% count on a professional
  • 38% count on a parent
  • 27% count on a friend
  • Only 8% count on a spouse or partner


80% have someone to count on for financial support:



  • 17% count on a professional or government agency
  • 43% count on a parent
  • 2% count on a friend
  • 1% count on a spouse or partner




Diversity of Friendships


Successful community integration depends largely on having diverse social networks as we rely on different people for different things.  Social networks among IN respondents tend to be less diverse and contain more paid professionals:

  • 69% report having 1 - 5 close friends
  • 9% report having NO close friends
  • For 36% one or more of these close friends are professionals
  • 49% report that all or most of their friends already know each other
  • 27% find work through agency-based employment services


Political Participation


One important indicator of community engagement is our level of political involvement. Political participation among IN respondents was low:


  • 36% are not registered to vote.
  • 57% did not vote in the last election. 
  • 19% don't care or are not interested in politics.


Civic & Community Leadership


Social capital is enhanced by involvement in organized groups such as sports teams, hobby groups, professional associations and religious involvement.  Overall, IN respondents had low involvement in these groups:


  • 48% never or almost never attend religious services
  • 76% do not participate in religious activities outside of worship
  • Only 1 - 12% participate in organized activities such as sports and hobby groups
  • Less than 2% have attended a public or town hall meeting in which a local issue was discussed
  • 62% believe they have a big to moderate impact on making their community a better place to live
  • 39% believe they have little or no impact
  • 54% participate to a small, very small or no extent in formal group decision-making


Informal Socializing

This index looks at what people do for fun and with whom they spend their time.  This includes activities such as going to the movies, dining out, bowling and hanging out in public places.  It also includes employment and volunteerism.  There were a variety of activities in which respondents participated.  For many, their activity partners often included agency staff:


  • 18% have part-time employment
  • 6% have full-time employment 
  • 23% are unemployed
  • 62% spend at least part of their day in day support programs for people with disabilities
  • Only 1 - 7% participate in any informal social activities
  • 24% eat at restaurants with agency staff
  • 25% see a movie with agency staff
  • 23% hang out in public places with agency staff



Participant demographics are summarized in Table 1. Fifty-three percent of participants were males; 40% were between 18-39 years of age; and 44% were between 40-60 years old. 


  • 27% live in a home owned by them or someone in their household
  • 46% rent their home
  • 27% live in publicly funded housing
  • 60% want to be living in their neighborhood in 5 years
  • 89% rate their neighborhood as good, very good, or excellent


  • 40% have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • 35% have less than a high school education
  • 9% have post-secondary education