University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) is a public research university and major center for academic research. Home to more than 51,000 students and 3,000 teaching faculty, UT Austin is one of the top 20 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Through its 2015 National Service and Civic Engagement Research Competition grant, UT Austin used the Confirmatory Factor Analysis measurement technique to create a new multiple-indicator, county-level measure of social capital. Then, using cross-lagged panel models, researchers are relating aspects of social capital and community engagement to various outcomes such as well-being and self-reported health. As a result of this research, UT Austin has drafted several papers to evaluate declines in social capital, explore connections between nonprofits and engagement, and investigate how the presence of AmeriCorps programs affects measures of subjective well-being.
Results show that both nonprofits and national service programs improve community subjective well-being and that there is an interdependent relationship between national service programs and subjective well-being. The team also used data from the 2008-2013 CPS Civic Engagement supplement to test recent trends in associated social capital. The findings suggest that associated social capital does not seem to be declining over time; however, there was a nonlinear decrease during the Great Recession.