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November 2009

Release Date: Nov. 4, 2009ASU Logo

ASU Group’s Research Finds Improvement in San Angelo’s Quality of Life

The quality of life in San Angelo showed improvement in 2008, according to the 2009 San Angelo Social Health Index and Social Capital Index compiled by Angelo State University’s Community Development Initiatives (CDI) group.

The Social Health Index, which uses a 100-point rating system based on 18 social health indicators, rated San Angelo at 56 in 2008 compared to 52 in 2007. The indicators measure quality of life conditions that typically challenge social progress in communities.

However, the Social Capital Index, which looks at 10 factors affecting social networks used in communities to find solutions to challenges, showed a score of only 47 out of 100 for San Angelo in 2008. That was down from a score of 65 in 2005 which could indicate citizens are being increasingly impeded from participation in the social capital networks that help communities solve problems, said Dr. Kenneth Stewart, ASU professor of sociology.

He said many community leaders think about fixing social problems in a wrong way.

“There is a tendency among leaders to try to solve problems with economic development,” Stewart said. “The index shows that economic and social problems don’t move together.”

Social capital is based on community members giving trust, time and energy to help themselves and other residents, he said. Churches, volunteer associations, service clubs and civic, neighborhood, non-profit and faith-based organizations are all components in the Social Capital Index.

CDI members, who are students led by Stewart and government Professor Casey Jones, gather data from local, state and federal reports for the indexes. Local and state numbers from 18 indicators go into the Social Health Index while the 10 indicators for the Social Capital Index apply to San Angelo and other Texas metropolitan areas.

The data gathered goes into the 100-point scoring system to get the annual measurements, which compare the most recent year to previous years. San Angelo’s Social Health Index has ranged from a high of 63 in 2002 to 43 in 2005.

Stewart said that, even though the first year they released the report was 2007, his group went back to 2000 for data, tracked it to 2007 and added 2008 for this year’s report.

“From the get-go, we were interested in trends,” he said. “That’s why we did it retrospectively.”

For the complete report, go online to www.angelo.edu/dept/cdi/sashi09.pdf or contact Stewart at 942-2219.