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Social Capital, Trust and Housing Tenure

Jed Donoghue
Bruce Tranter
University of Tasmania
Open Panel

Abstract

Social capital and trust are examined in this research through the lens of various housing tenures. Employing a multivariate approach to analyse nationally representative survey data, we delineate the social and political background of Australian homeowners and social housing tenants. We also consider their responses on key indicators of social capital, such as confidence in a range of public institutions and their levels of interpersonal trust. Public tenants have lower incomes, are less educated and tend to identify with the working class or no class location at all. They are less likely to be married or in de facto relationships than people in other housing tenures, but more likely to identify with the Australian Labor Party than the conservatives or minor parties. In Australia, public tenants have access to secure and affordable accommodation, yet they are less trusting than private renters or homeowners and express less confidence in government institutions such as the Federal parliament. Our research strongly suggests that the development of bridging social capital could promote positive social and economic outcomes for public housing tenants and improve their life chances.