Bridging Social Capital

A set of connections linking the individual with others outside his or her group of affiliation (i.e., individuals from different ethnicities, classes, or religious groups), which provides access to a wider range of employment and educational opportunities.
Advancing factor

Relation to social mobility

According to numerous studies, bridging social capital has been found to be associated with positive employment outcomes, such as more personal recommendations to employers, increased knowledge and employment opportunities, higher productivity at work, low unemployment rates, and even higher wages.


Brown, M., Setren, E., & Topa, G. (2016). Do informal referrals lead to better matches? Evidence from a firm’s employee referral system. Journal of Labor Economics, 34(1), 161–209 McDonald, S. (2015). Network effects across the earnings distribution: Payoffs to visible and invisible job finding assistance. Social Science Research, 49, 299–313. Smith, S. S. (2016). Job finding among the poor: Do social ties matter? In D. Brady & L. M. Burton (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of the social science of poverty (pp. 438–461). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Greve, A., Benassi, M., & Sti, A. D. (2010). Exploring the contributions of human and social capital to productivity. International Review of Sociology, 20(1), 35–58.

Desirable achievements

Ages 18-25
  • Network building opportunities

    Ample opportunity for individuals to create social networks, experience diverse social contexts, and create sources of support.

    Intervention examples

  • Peer networks

    Formation of peer networks for individuals in various context

Key population

  • Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds
Various studies indicate that bridging social capital is unequally distributed in the population. Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds have fewer opportunities to generate bridging social capital, and they also face more barriers which hinder or prevent its creation, such as difficulty in providing reciprocity.