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Abstract

The development of social capital among families living in low income neighborhoods has become a popular poverty reduction and economic advancement strategy. However conceptual scholarship suggests the broad use of social capital has diminished its importance. Scholars have begun to identify the multiple and overlapping characteristics of social capital and the field now needs empirical studies to show how specific types of social capital are important for families living in low-income neighborhoods. This study tests the relationship between three types of social capital (informal bonding social capital, formal bonding social capital and formal bridging social capital) and important outcomes for families in these neighborhoods. Data for the study come from a national neighborhood survey conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (N=6,031). Findings confirm a differentiated relationship between the three types of social capital and family outcomes. Study findings suggest that applying a broad understanding of social capital to interventions in low-income communities may be inadequate and instead interventions should match a "type" of social capital to the community's presenting issue(s).

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