• Linda Ejlskov Jeppesen
  • Tatiana Bergstrøm
4. term, Sociology, Master (Master Programme)
In this master thesis, we investigate the association between social capital and the duration of unemploy-ment periods of individuals in the Northern region of Denmark. Several studies have demonstrated the detrimental effect long spells of unemployment can have on both the individual’s physical and mental health. Thus, our primary motivation for performing this study is to enhance the knowledge of whether and how social networks shortens spells of unemployment.
Even though the association between social networks and employment possibilities long have been a field of interest in both economics and sociology through i.e. Mark Granovetter, social capital have not been investigated in any great length in this regard. Furthermore, most of the previous studies are cross-sectional which weakens any potential causal interpretations.
Social capital can be seen as a sort of nexus between sociology and economics. While some aspects of social capital are closely related to previous definitions of social relations, the concept broadens the scope of analyses by including dimensions of the norms of trust and reciprocity that exist in the network instead of solely focusing on more structural aspects. Social capital can be viewed as a form for capital embedded in social relationships that influence the opportunities and limitations an individual will have throughout life. That is, in an employment perspective some individuals will via their social capital have access to more information and resources. In turn, this will enhance their employment opportunities relative to other individuals with lower social capital.
Following a theoretical discussion of social capital and the operationalization often used in empirical studies, we choose to divide the concept in a bridging and bonding dimension. These two dimensions we subsequently divide further into a norm- and network component respectively. Based on the theoret-ical writings and empirical investigations of noted researchers as i.e. Mark Granovetter, we develop sev-eral hypotheses regarding both the general association between social capital and the duration of unem-ployment periods as well as how this association varies depending on the gender, age group, ethnicity and educational status and the sector in which the individual finds employment.
We link data from a Danish regional health survey with data from several Danish administrative reg-istries in order to obtain information on measures of unemployment, social capital and confounding variables. In the course of the three-year follow-up period (2010 to 2013) a total of 2659 individuals experienced 4299 periods of unemployment. Of the 4299 periods of unemployment 2601 ended with the individual finding employment while the rest were censored due to datastop or because they experienced
one of the previously defined competing events (e.g. retired, began an education etc.). We use Cox pro-portional hazard models to calculate hazard ratios and 95% confidence interval performing separate anal-yses on the two specific social capital measures.
The results show that especially the norms of support and help that exist in the strong bonding net-work account for the general association between social capital and the duration of the unemployment period. This result suggests that it is the quality rather than the quantity in an individual’s social network that matters when an unemployed individual has to find a new job. For this reason, we believe that this thesis demonstrates the importance of a social capital perspective on the association between social rela-tions and the duration of an unemployment period.
Furthermore, the analysis indicated, that the association depends on the sector in which the individual find employment as well as the individual’s age and educational status. That is, in further studies of social capital it’s important to take the possible moderating effects of these factors into account.
Publication date1 Mar 2015
Number of pages150
External collaboratorRegion Nordjylland
Sisse Buch Johnsen s.johnsen@rn.dk
ID: 208218983