"Communities operate mostly not through law, but through mutual give and take and co-operation," he says. "In a good community, people know what the kids are doing. They gossip and report on each other; they help each other. A community is a form of social organization in which control is informally exercised through participation. People just participate – they come to the town meeting, they talk to each other. Everybody keeps their own property in good shape because their neighbors will yell at them if they don't."
The idea that "united we stand, divided we fall" seems just as relevant today as it was in prehistoric times. An October 2011 study by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), a bipartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., shows that states and cities with good civic health have lower unemployment rates than other places. So far, there's no conclusive proof that civic health can actually create low unemployment. But the correlation between the two is strong.
The study used Current Population Survey data from the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to measure civic health. It looked at five main indicators: how much people volunteered, how often they went to public meetings, and whether they helped their neighbors, registered to vote, and voted. It also took into account specific external factors that could influence an area's economy: the presence of the oil and gas industry, the state of the local housing market, and the percentage of people with high school diplomas and professional jobs.