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The Balse Institute of Commons and Economics is creating a social climate index.

Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin
© picture-alliance/dpa - Prinzessinnengarten, Berlin

CONFIDENCE COUNTS. Cities, regions and countries are often compared on the basis of economic figures. But this method is too one-dimensional for the researchers at the Basel Institute of Commons and Economics. That’s why the team working with the German sociologist Alexander Dill is measuring social capital for the first time and compiling a social climate index which measures the sum of immaterial goods, such as confidence, hospitality and helpfulness. “In many countries prosperity has reached a level beyond which increases don’t make people any happier,” says Arne Scholz from the Basle institute. “Average values, such as gross domestic product, don’t include factors such as social inequality, which have a great influence on satisfaction.” He is hoping that the index will bring greater recognition for immaterial goods. “It’s about recognizing social relationships as a resource: strong communities function better.” And: “Why shouldn’t the credit rating of a country also be based on social capital in ten years’ time? After all, when people stand by one another, it gives them confidence in the society they live in.”