BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 January 2006, 16:53 GMT
Measuring social relationships
A couple in a bar
More or Less
Thursday, 26 January, 2006
BBC Radio 4, 1500 GMT

Imagine a fantastically important characteristic of society that you are not sure how to measure, not even certain exactly what it is, but you are worried that there might be less of it

Click here to have your say

Welcome to the problem of social capital.

It sounds like other kinds of capital, with the sort of cash valuation you might place on factories, offices or equipment, or, as in the case of human capital, the value we might place on human skill and education.

But social capital is unique.

It seems to increase when you use it and decline when you leave it alone. It seems to exist not in places or people, but between people, as one contributor this week describes it.

What it tries to encapsulate is the importance of connections and contacts between people, their range and frequency of social interactions.

Governments are taking an increasing interest in it. Economies are said to grow faster because of it and in More or Less this week we looked at the fundamental problem of measuring it.

Counting animals

Also this week, the difficulty of counting animals that are not exactly census friendly.

And a little statistical challenge about hedgehogs.

BBC Radio 4's More or Less was broadcast on Thursday, 26 January, 2006 at 1500 GMT.

You can e-mail us by using the form below:

Send us your comments:

Your E-mail address:

Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all emails will be published.

Your comments
31 Jan 06 |  More Or Less

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific