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Study: Trends in social capital in Canada, 2003, 2008 and 2013

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Released: 2015-05-20

According to a new study, Canadians had more friends in 2013 than in 2003, as the proportion of people saying they had 3 or more close friends increased from 70% to 75%. In addition, the proportion of people who had more than 10 other friends or acquaintances grew from 56% in 2003 to 60% in 2013.

Social networks

Along with having a wider network of friends, Canadians' social networks were more diversified. In 2013, 59% of people reported that at least a few of the friends they contacted in the last month came from an ethnic group visibly different from their own. This compares with 54% in 2003. The increase, which was more pronounced among young Canadians, was not recorded among the population aged 55 and older.

Despite the increase in the number of friends, Canadians saw their friends less frequently. The percentage of Canadians who saw their friends in-person a few times a week or more fell from 56% in 2003 to 44% in 2013. Canadians were also less likely to see their relatives frequently compared with 10 years earlier.

Levels of trust in others

In 2013, Canadians' levels of trust were similar to those 10 years earlier.

In 2013, 54% of Canadians said that, generally speaking, "most people can be trusted," while 46% stated that "you cannot be too careful in dealing with people." These proportions were virtually unchanged from 2003.

The level of trust in neighbours also remained at a similar level during this period. In 2013, 45% of Canadians were confident that a lost wallet or purse would be returned if a neighbour found it. This proportion was essentially the same in 2003.

Community involvement

In 2013, 65% of Canadians were members of a group, organization or association, compared with 61% in 2003. The percentage of Canadians who participated in group activities or meetings at least once a month remained the same between 2003 and 2013, at 48%.

The volunteer rate was practically unchanged during this 10-year period (44% in 2013 versus 45% in 2004).

The article "Trends in social capital in Canada," part of the publication Spotlight on Canadians: Results from the General Social Survey (Catalogue number89-652-X), is now available on our website from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Additional data are available upon request.

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