Undergraduate Economic Review


Proponents of “new urbanism” suggest that “new urban” neighborhood design characteristics promote social interaction within the neighborhood. In this paper we formally analyze the relationship between “new urban” neighborhood characteristics (e.g., grid street patterns, green space, mixed commercial and residential land use) and social capital formation. We conducted a survey in order to determine the presence of new urban characteristics in neighborhoods and levels of neighborhood-specific social capital in Greenville, South Carolina. We then constructed a social capital index, which we regressed against a set of new urban and control variables. We find that new urban characteristics which facilitate personal interactions are correlated with the social capital index, as are the “youthfulness” of the neighborhood, homeownership rates, fewer hours worked, and the presence of children 18 and under in the household. These results suggest that some aspects of new urbanism may help promote the development of social capital within neighborhoods.