"Social integration and disintegration" is one of the topics to be addressed at the 1995 world summit on social development. Social disintegration is a vague and obviously problematic concept, which presumably refers to such dimensions as conflict and instability, breakdowns in political and civil rights, crime and violence, growing divisions between rich and poor, and eroding levels of citizens' satisfaction with their lives. This paper examines a range of imperfect indicators of these phenomena across a spectrum of countries. We discover two (uncorrelated) constellations of variables relating to social disintegration. Each of the two factors turns out to be correlated to a host of other variables. But interestingly, neither is strongly related to many of the aspects of social disintegration that seem most to concern the Western industrialized nations. In short, different countries seem to face different types of social disintegration. Another finding: within our mostly cross-sectional data set, countries with lower levels of growth exhibited more social disintegration on almost every indicator. The paper stresses both the lessons (provocative but inconclusive) and the limitations (conceptual and statistical) of the data analysis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Sociology and Political Science
- Economics and Econometrics