Social Capital, Civic Health, and Quality of Life in the United States

A Policy@McCombs Event

Most of our everyday interactions happen in local communities, where we use our talents, time, and energy to pursue a better life while dealing with relevant social and economic problems. Interestingly, evidence suggests that individuals trust their local communities’ ability to handle these problems effectively, and they engage in this process with more optimism than most would assume. Ryan Streeter, Director of Domestic Policy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), argues that although “most Americans are dissatisfied with the direction of the country, they are optimistic about life in their communities and their ability to achieve the American dream.”

Citing results from a new AEI survey on community and society, Streeter’s research suggests that communities are doing better than we assume: 73 percent are satisfied with the way things are going in their communities. Moreover, a better understanding of “sources of social capital, community engagement, and civic resilience” can provide valuable knowledge to decision-makers, this informing better public policy solutions to our most significant domestic problems.

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