Australia’s social capital recovery

Back in May, when the ABS released its working time statistics, left-familist John Buchanan went on the offensive:

“It is not just family life, but community life that is being compromised,” said the director of the Workplace Research Centre at Sydney University, John Buchanan. “It just rips the heart out of the football team.”

Yesterday, the ABS released its 2006 voluntary work statistics, showing yet again that left-familist analysis owes more to its ideological assumptions than to empirical social science. Despite two rounds of IR reform since they started these surveys in 1995, the volunteering rate continues to increase, though at a lower overall rate.

The figures were 1995 – 23.6%, 2000- 31.8%, 2002 – 34.4%, 2006 – 35.4%. Unfortunately there is no specific information on football teams (though only work for the team, rather than playing, would be counted) but young men aged 18-24 showed above average increases in volunteering between the two surveys. Indeed, the increase between the last two surveys was driven by the 18-44 year olds, with older age groups showing minor increases or decline.

Also inconsistent with the time poverty argument, those in professional and managerial jobs and higher income groups (two socioeconomic characteristics linked with long work hours) had above average volunteering rates.

The survey confirms that social capital breeds further social capital. Continue reading “Australia’s social capital recovery”

Does capitalism make us happy?

‘. . . Somewhere between Plato and Prozac, happiness stopped being a lofty achievement and became an entitlement.’
Richard Schoch, The Secret of Happiness: Three thousand years of searching for the good life.

Has 200 years of liberal capitalism made us any happier?

That’s the question being asked in the 2007 Ross Parish Essay competition, open to people under 30. The deadline for entries is 17 September, with prize money and publication in Policy for the first and second prize winners.

Judging is so impartial that the joint winners a couple of years ago were members of the Greens and Opus Dei respectively.