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Bowling together by bowling alone: social capital and Covid-19

The literature documents a strong positive association between social capital and health. However, because personal social interactions are implicated in the spread of viral infections, areas with high levels of social capital may be especially at risk during the Covid-19 pandemic. Social capital comprises not only a cognitive component (i.e. norms of reciprocity and trust) but also a relational component (i.e. social relationships and networks). We use data from counties in the United States to provide evidence on the extent to which community level responses such as reducing mobility to comply with social distancing advice and regulations are related with social capital. In line with predictions we find that individuals reduced mobility earlier and to a higher degree in counties with high levels of social capital than in counties with low levels of social capital.

Lead investigator:

Francesca Borgonovi


University College London

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

Secondary topic:

Health, physical & mental

Region of data collection:

North America

Country of data collection


Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:

From private company

Unit of real-time data collection




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