Cross-National Patterns of Social Capital Accumulation: Gender, Network Resources, and Aging in the United States, China, and Taiwan

Steve McDonald, North Carolina State University
Feinian Chen, University of Maryland
Christine Mair, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

This study uses nationally representative data from the United States, China, and Taiwan to examine how cultural, historical, and institutional differences influence patterns of social capital accumulation across the life course. In particular, we focus on the presence of contacts in diverse occupational environments and the extent of daily social interaction as indicators of social capital. Also, the analyses explore gender inequality in access to social capital resources within each of the three contexts. The results show distinct age-based patterns of social capital accumulation which likely reflect both aging and cohort differences in the experience of life time events. Furthermore, the within-country analyses reveal interesting patterns of inequality that reflect the divergence, convergence, and equality of network-based resources across the life course, depending on the context. These findings help to unpack processes of cumulative advantage and disadvantage and point to historical and institutional mechanisms that assist in generating these processes.

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Presented in Session 159: Social Networks, Social Capital, and Aging