A wide range evidence on
the cause, effect, definitions and on how to measure social capital. This paper
seek to use existing scholarly data to emphasize the results. Social capital as
a concept is no new, however most researcher cite Bourdieu 1986 and Coleman
1988, which takes a different perceptive than Putnam 2000. There is a conceptual
gap among scholar in agreeing on a definitive definition of social capital
(Bjornskov 2006). This paper will follows Putnam’s definition “features of
social organization, such as trust, norms, and networks that can improve the
efficiency of society by facilitating co-ordinated actions” (Putnam, 1993 p.167)    .

            This paper emphasis on two ways to
operationalize illuminating variable social capital in that are in agreement
with most scholarly works; trust of society, community membership and
interpersonal. The way in which trust is measured consist of a collecting of
responses to questions in the World Values Survey on social and interpersonal
trust to show “trust in the other” (Putnam, 2000, pp. 137). Next consideration
of community membership contains the responses people gave to questions about
their membership in many groups. Voter turnout in elections is the dependent
variable. By no means is the only important element in defining democracies,
voting is an essential part of participation in the democratic development that
is normally more available and less expensive than other ways of political
participation. Thus, it is significant to understand possible factors of voter
turnout that lessen difficulties or raise encouragement. Some scholars have
pointed to the impact of social capital on many facets of political life,
social, or economic nonetheless few have carefully studied the impact of social
capital on voter turnout. Voter turnout is a critical feature of democracy. The
precise puzzle in this paper is: To what extent does social capital effect
voting? To understand this connection, the paper will study how social capital
impacts voter turnout globally. The two hypotheses that are shown by previous
scholarly works. Hypothesis 1 measure social capital only as community
membership in their organization, higher levels of social capital do not lead
to higher levels of voter turnout in democratic countries. Hypothesis 2 measure
social capital in societal trust, formal community membership, and
interpersonal higher stages of social capital lead to higher stages of voter
turnout in democratic countries. To testing both hypotheses by using data from
responses on the World Values Survey (WVS) about community membership along
with societal, and interpersonal trust as well as percentages of voter turnout
in elections from the International Institute for Democratic and Electoral
Assistance. This paper begins with a debate of current theories of social capital
and its causal mechanisms, the effect that social capital has on political
participation on voter turnout.

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Literature
Review and Theory

The two explanations
on the effect that social capital has on political participation. Frist
suggests that lower levels of social capital lead to greater levels of
political participation within a civic society. Some academics scholars
advocate that it stems from feelings of criticisms citizens have towards their
community (Gurr, 1970). Others provide a different connection to explain the
surge in political participation. Critical citizen theory, these sets of
scholars argue that political participation increases when people feel
displeased with the performance of their government nonetheless still support
democratic principles (Dalton and Welzel, 2015). But feelings of disapproval
about the performance of government are not always said to be an element of
increased political participation. Political participation increases as
political trust, and other factors, increases within a society (Almond &
Verba, 1963). As citizens feel more assured that they can give and make a
difference within their communities this stems from a feeling of political
efficacy. Others have used social capital to explain economic performance (Putnam,
1993 & Fukuyama, 1995). However Fukuyama emphases on trust whereas
Beugelsdijk & Schaik (2005) describe this as a range in which Putnam
concentrations on the system feature of social capital while. They are not the
only ones to query whether only certain features of social capital profit
significant effects (Bjornskov, 2006). Furthermore, countless researchers
enquiry on the causes and impacts of social capital either as a whole or
disaggregated.

This paper discourses
political participation generally, by focusing on the effect social capital has
especially on voter turnout. By theorizing that higher levels of social capital
lead to higher levels of voter turnout within 35 democratic countries.
Researchers often vary in their operationalization of social capital though
maintaining the concepts of community membership, trust and norms. Focusing
only on two measures of social capital, community membership and trust, that
are similar to measurements used by other scholars in the field (Putnam1993).
The results show that as community membership changes, current measurements may
be outdated even though it is a reliable factor used by Putnam. Answers on
studies regarding interpersonal and societal trust, are more likely to reflect
current changes by assessing individual feeling rather than community
membership in existing organizations that change over time. By analyzing this
argument and assessing the impact that community membership only may have on
social capital. Next by testing social capital through the effect that
interpersonal and societal trust, and community membership, on voter turnout.
Some researchers study social capital to be a way in which systems are able to
enforce political participation, especially when it comes to voter turnout
(Gerber, Green, & Larimer, 2008). While other have argued that, as a result
of social capital, information is able to flow more freely which increases
political information (Huckfeldt, 1998; Downs, 1957). Additionally, scholars
suggest that an increase in interpersonal trust and membership can lead to an
increase in governmental trust over time (Keele, 2007). Interpersonal and
societal trust results in higher voter turnout as citizens feel obligated to
vote as a means to ensure the social security. The higher levels of trust in a
society improve the need for political participation.

Data
and Methods

            The definition of social capital
works in two ways. Hypothesis 1, uses membership in community organizations.
Hypothesis 2, define it by stressing stages of interpersonal and societal trust
in the explanation of social capital. Questions from Wave 5 of the World Values
Survey (WVS), which is done on a global scale in opinion surveys. Cases consist
of 35 democratic states in Wave 5 of the WVS with a score of 1-5 on the Freedom
House Index.

Voter Turnout

To measure voter
turnout, data is used from a voter turnout study compiled by the International
Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). It gives voter turnout
percentages for all of the states used in this paper centered on voting age
population and percentage of registered voters from elections. The registered
voters registration of that country is given in percentage and of those that
voted in countries elections

Social Capital

 To measure social capital, data is collected
on interpersonal and societal trust and community membership in 35 democratic
state from Wave 5 of the WVS.  Data on
interpersonal and societal trust and membership from 2005-2009, and voter turnout
data from 2013 to 2017.

Questions from the WVS
on community membership and societal, and interpersonal trust.  Each question is coded on 0-1 scale, 0
representing non community membership or trust and 1 showing full membership or
trust. Community membership, 0 for those that are not members, and 1 for active
members. Greater mean scores relate to higher levels of community membership.

Two groups are
categorize: community membership and trust. A least squares (OLS) regression is
done to test the impact on voter turnout, first testing community membership
and second societal and interpersonal trust. Freedom is done through the
Freedom House Index, from 1-5; population for each country is collected by the
World Bank; GDP from the World Bank to show if it impacts voter turnout.
Political Trust, ask how confident are citizens in their government.

Table
1 Global analysis of 35 States

 

Coeff.

P

Membership

0.0000876

0.407

Comp. Voting

16.76606

0.004

Freedom

0.4273383

0.793

Population

4.62E-09

0.689

GDP

0.3171875

0.532

Political Trust

20.76923

0.217

 

The results relates
with the theory, showing that societal and interpersonal trust shows an impact
whereas community membership does not. This shows that membership cannot define
social capital. Table 1 reports mean scores for community membership and voter
turnout. The findings show form table 1 shows that there is no fundamental
effect of membership on voter turnout.

 

 

 

Table
2

 

Coeff.

P

Trust

61.44863

0.029

Membership

0.0000983

0.329

Comp. Voting

19.38537

0.001

Freedom

1.950301

0.253

Population

6.03E-09

0.584

GDP

0.06104958

0.226

Political Trust

20.57472

0.994

 

Table 2 shows a mean
scores for societal and interpersonal trust on voter turnout, with the same
control variables as table 1. Table 2 shows a significant impact of
interpersonal and societal trust on voter turnout. The number of observations
is 35. If interpersonal and societal trust is absent within a nation, we would
find a low voter turnout. If citizens have full confidence within their
government, we would find significant levels of voter turnout. The findings in
table 2 are related with my second hypothesis Greater levels of interpersonal
and societal trust within a society lead to higher rates of voter turnout.
Compulsory voting also has a solid impact on voter turnout as well (Birch
2009).

The Graph shows the
effect of interpersonal and societal trust which is not explained by controlled
variables on voter turnout.  In
confirming the theory, there is rising slope with sates generally that are
close to the regression line. This confirms the theory, with Japan having the
lowest levels of trust and voter turnout whereas Australia, New Zealand, and
Sweden show the highest levels of societal, and interpersonal trust including
voter turnout.

Ethiopia and Thailand
are outsiders, with Ethiopia having greater voter turnout in societal and
interpersonal trust and lower voter turnout in Thailand in the same areas.
Thailand and Ethiopia have low levels of freedom according to the Freedom House
Index with a score of 2. Additionally, Thailand shows discrepancy, which
challenges the theory in this paper cause of their military coup can caused an
inconsistence in voter turnout. Voter turnout dropped significantly from
2011-2014, which may have been caused a rise in voter turnout.

Graph 1

 

Table
3

 

Coeff.

P

Trust

37.74645

0.029

Membership

0.0000983

0.329

Comp. Voting

19.35537

0.001

Freedom

1.950302

0.253

Population

6.03E-09

0.584

GDP

0.6104958

0.226

Political Trust

-1.1362138

0.994

 

Table 3 indicates a
change from Table 2 the way the score for societal and interpersonal trust in
Japan, with the lowest levels of trust, as a score of 0 whereas Sweden, which
has the highest levels of trust, as a score of 1. Table 3 shows that moving
from low levels of societal and interpersonal trust in Japan to a high level of
societal and interpersonal trust in Sweden shows an increase in voter turnout.
The increase in voter turnout essential in Model 2, but Model 3 shows an
increase in voter turnout from the states with the lowest level of trust to the
states with the highest trust has significant impact on voter turnout.

The literature review
held me in the explanatory theories. The findings suggest that voter turnout is
strongly impacted by the societal and interpersonal trust which are factors of
social capital, but not by the community membership. Table 2 shows increase in
voter turnout when a citizens depart from a complete absence of societal and
interpersonal trust to a 100% trust in government. Furthermore the findings in
table 3, shows that departing from the state with the lowest levels of trust,
Japan to the states with a greater levels of trust, such as Sweden, showed an
increase in voter turnout. This would mean that there are strong consequences
for Japan and states with low voter turnout. Clearly improving trust is one way
to increase voter participation.

 Particularly, building community groups and
relationships in a country can significantly improve voter participation rate
in democratic states. While I do don’t expect Japan to increase interpersonal
and societal trust to New Zeeland’s levels rapidly, however with even a minor
increase in trust, would show an increase in voter turnout. When the world’s
political leaders sit down to discuss the way we can improve and make democracy
stronger, societal and interpersonal trust needed to be an integral part of the
discussion. Membership as no significant impact on voter turnout. This can be
misleading in that some may think that social capital as no meaningful impact
on voter turnout rate. However the research on social capital done by Putnam
and other scholar are of the opinion that community membership as strong factor
in voter participation. This paper as shown that it’s a combination societal
and interpersonal trust that holds a significant factor. Yet, the data in this
paper as limitations, by showing a strong impact of trust on voter turnout
shows the importance of these relationship to voter participation.

 

 

 

 

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