Secretary Merrill releases first index of Connecticut’s Civic Health
Published: Monday, November 7, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 7, 2011 22:11
Recently, Secretary of State Denise Merrill joined national partners from the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) and Everyday Democracy regarding Connecticut's index of civic health. The 2011 Connecticut Civic Health Index is the first of its kind.
Civic Health is the study that examines how connected constituents inhabiting different areas feel to their community. The 2011 Connecticut Civic Health Index employed the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) to analyze data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, and observed different indicators of civic health.
The civic health of a particular region can be analyzed by examining voter turnout, volunteering opportunities, social connectedness between constituents, the amount of leadership roles within the community, and many other factors that contribute to the connectedness individuals feel towards their community.
Connecticut ranked higher than the national percentage in the categories of volunteering, voter turnout, voter registration, talking politics with friends and family, social connectedness through the internet, donating to charities, belonging to groups and taking leadership roles within the community. The sixth-highest percentage in the nation, 58.4 percent of Connecticut inhabitants reportedly donated to charities.
Among the more interesting findings of the 2011 Connecticut Civic Health Index was the discovery that women tend to participate more than men in school, neighborhood, or community associations (18.1 percent compared to 10.7 percent). Men tend to participate more than women in civic associations (9.7 percent to 7.7 percent).
Civic Health cannot only aid aspiring politicians, but it can be an indicator of the overall quality of life of citizens within different communities.
"Civic Health might seem like a ‘feel good' extra, but evidence shows that it is fundamental to solving public problems," said Martha McCoy, executive director of Everyday Democracy, "Having a voice, being heard, and working together are essential to creating communities and a state that work well for all residents."
"This groundbreaking study for the first time quantifies what all of us who work in public service have wanted to know for some time--that is, how connected do we as a state feel to our communities?" Merrill said.
Many Connecticut residents on the UConn campus take their civic duties quite seriously, which may have contributed to Connecticut's high ranking when it comes to civic health around the nation.
"It's important to be involved within the community. When you give back and you make your opinions heard, you feel a sense of pride in your town," said Anna Harabosky, a 5th- semester consumer behavior major at UConn, as well as a team leader for the Walk for Multiple Sclerosis and a morale captain for HuskyTHON.
"As educated and contributing members of society, it is our civic, political, and social duty to render assistance and service to others in our community and our world. Active participation in community and human service, as well as political and social affairs not only builds personal strength and character, but it empowers and betters the world around us," said Kulsum Lalani, a 5th-semester communication sciences major who is both a peer career advisor and OFSL liaison at UConn Department of Career Services.