ARCHIVED – Social Capital and Employment Entry of Recent Immigrants to Canada

4. Social capital indicators

The definition of social capital emphasizes both structure and content of networks. The structure of networks (across network types) includes size and diversity. The size of networks can be measured by the number of friends or relatives, and the number of types of groups or organizations a person is involved with. The diversity of networks is measured by the relative numbers of co-ethnic members and other members in a person’s networks. The content of networks is defined by the amount of social involvement and social support such as frequency of contact, number of types of help from networks, and contribution made by a respondent to the relationships.

4.1 Social capital indicators

According to the LSIC data structure, social networks are categorized into three types. The first type is kinship network, which includes relationships with family members and relatives living in Canada. The second type is friendship network, which consists of ties with friends and workmates. The third type is organizational network, defined as the relationships immigrants have with groups and organizations, such as community organizations, religious groups, ethnic or immigrant associations, etc. Different dimensions of social capital are also considered. For each type of network, the following indicators are built to measure the social capital stock: 3

Network size: the number of people or units with whom immigrants maintain different types of relationships (family, friends, organizations, etc). While the LSIC does not provide information on the absolute numbers of people in all networks, there are some good substitutes for network size. For example, information is collected on the types of relatives in Canada (spouse, children, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, cousins, etc). By counting the types of relatives, the paper gets an approximation of network size for families.

Network diversity: heterogeneity of the social and ethnic characteristics of network members. The LSIC collects information on the relative number of co-ethnic members among friends, workplace networks and organizational networks. An ethnic diversity index is created for each type of network, which ranges from 0 to 1. The higher the index, the more ethnically diversified an immigrant’s network is. For Waves 2 and 3, there is an additional indicator for the diversity of friendship network: relative number of immigrant members in friends’ network. An immigrant diversity index is built in a similar fashion as the ethnic diversity index.

Network density: frequency of contact between network members. Using the information on the frequency of contact with people in the networks, a density index (ranging from 0 to 1) is created for each type of network. The higher the index, the more frequently an immigrant contacts with network members or takes part in activities.

Geographic dispersion indicators are also built for relative and friend networks.

Network reciprocity (quality of network): help from networks and contribution made to networks. The LSIC shows that social networks are important to new immigrants, especially in the settlement process of finding accommodations, getting employment, accessing education or training and receiving health care service. Indicators have been created to measure the different types of help (among the above mentioned four settlement fields) an immigrant gets from a particular type of network. However, contribution to networks is not easy to measure within the LSIC. As a measurement, a variable indicating the number of organizations to which an immigrant volunteered time is used. In Wave 2 and 3, immigrants were asked about the help provided to other newcomers, thus, this is used as an indicator measuring the number of types of help provided for other immigrants. 4

Notes

3. There is a descriptive analysis of the social capital indicators – the presence of social networks upon landing and the development of new networks for the LSIC immigrants, which is available upon request.

4. In the following regression analyses, not all indicators for network reciprocity are present. Because of low variability, the indicators for number of types of help got from a certain kind of network are not included. Furthermore, the contribution indicators enter the estimation not as the absolute numbers, but as dummy variables indicating whether an immigrant volunteered time for groups or provided newcomers with help.

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