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Does social capital enhance health and well-being? Evidence from rural China

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  • Yip, Winnie
  • Subramanian, S.V.
  • Mitchell, Andrew D.
  • Lee, Dominic T.S.
  • Wang, Jian
  • Kawachi, Ichiro
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    Abstract

    Despite increasing acknowledgement that social capital is an important determinant of health and overall well-being, empirical evidence regarding the direction and strength of these linkages in the developing world is limited and inconclusive. This paper empirically examines relationships between social capital and health and well-being--as well as the suitability of commonly used social capital measures--in rural China, where rapid economic growth coexists with gradual and fundamental social changes. To measure social capital, we adopt a structural/cognitive distinction, whereby structural social capital is measured by organizational membership and cognitive social capital is measured by a composite index of trust, reciprocity, and mutual help. Our outcome measures included self-reported general health, psychological health, and subjective well-being. We adopt multi-level estimation methods to account for our conceptualization of social capital as both an individual- and contextual-level resource. Results indicate that cognitive social capital (i.e., trust) is positively associated with all three outcome measures at the individual level and psychological health/subjective well-being at the village level as well. We further find that trust affects health and well-being through pathways of social network and support. In contrast, there is little statistical association or consistent pattern between structural social capital (organizational membership) and the outcome variables. Furthermore, although organizational membership is highly correlated with collective action, neither is associated with health or well-being. Our results suggest that policies aimed at producing an environment that enhances social networks and facilitates the exchange of social support hold promise for improving the health and well-being of the rural Chinese population. In addition, China may not have fully taken advantage of the potential contribution of structural social capital in advancing health and well-being. A redirection of collective action from economic to social activities may be worth considering.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 64 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 35-49

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:64:y:2007:i:1:p:35-49

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    Keywords: Social capital Health Well-being Rural China Trust;

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    Cited by:
    1. Yamamura, Eiji, 2011. "Differences in the effect of social capital on health status between workers and non-workers," MPRA Paper 29536, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Kumar, Santosh & Calvo, Rocio & Avendano, Mauricio & Sivaramakrishnan, Kavita & Berkman, Lisa F., 2012. "Social support, volunteering and health around the world: Cross-national evidence from 139 countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(5), pages 696-706.
    3. Wan-chi Chen, 2012. "How Education Enhances Happiness: Comparison of Mediating Factors in Four East Asian Countries," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 106(1), pages 117-131, March.
    4. Sehee Han & Heaseung Kim & Eung-Sun Lee & Hee-Sun Lee, 2013. "The Contextual and Compositional Associations of Social Capital and Subjective Happiness: A Multilevel Analysis from Seoul, South Korea," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 1183-1200, August.
    5. Fiorillo, Damiano & Sabatini, Fabio, 2011. "Structural social capital and health in Italy," MPRA Paper 32367, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Herian, Mitchel N. & Tay, Louis & Hamm, Joseph A. & Diener, Ed, 2014. "Social capital, ideology, and health in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 30-37.
    7. Davison, Kirsten K. & Nishi, Akihiro & Kranz, Sibylle & Wyckoff, Lynae & May, John J. & Earle-Richardson, Giulia B. & Strogatz, David S. & Jenkins, Paul L., 2012. "Associations among social capital, parenting for active lifestyles, and youth physical activity in rural families living in upstate New York," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(8), pages 1488-1496.
    8. Maria Pavlova & Rainer Silbereisen & Kamil Sijko, 2014. "Social Participation in Poland: Links to Emotional Well-Being and Risky Alcohol Consumption," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 117(1), pages 29-44, May.
    9. Sehee Han & Heaseung Kim & Hee-Sun Lee, 2013. "A Multilevel Analysis of the Compositional and Contextual Association of Social Capital and Subjective Well-Being in Seoul, South Korea," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 111(1), pages 185-202, March.
    10. Nauenberg, Eric & Laporte, Audrey & Shen, Leilei, 2011. "Social capital, community size and utilization of health services: A lagged analysis," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 38-46.
    11. J. Cramm & V. Møller & A. Nieboer, 2012. "Individual- and Neighbourhood-Level Indicators of Subjective Well-Being in a Small and Poor Eastern Cape Township: The Effect of Health, Social Capital, Marital Status, and Income," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 105(3), pages 581-593, February.
    12. Prins, R.G. & Beenackers, M.A. & Boog, M.C. & Van Lenthe, F.J. & Brug, J. & Oenema, A., 2014. "Neighbourhood social capital as a moderator between individual cognitions and sports behaviour among Dutch adolescents," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 9-15.
    13. Isabella Santini & Anna de Pascale, . "Social capital and its impact on poverty reduction: measurement issues in longitudinal and cross-country comparisons. Towards a unified framework in the European Union," Working Papers 101/12, Sapienza University of Rome, Metodi e modelli per l'economia, il territorio e la finanza MEMOTEF.
    14. Han, Sehee, 2013. "Compositional and contextual associations of social capital and self-rated health in Seoul, South Korea: A multilevel analysis of longitudinal evidence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 113-120.
    15. Fiorillo, Damiano & Sabatini, Fabio, 2011. "Quality and quantity: The role of social interactions in self-reported individual health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(11), pages 1644-1652.
    16. Neena Chappell & Laura Funk, 2010. "Social Capital: Does it Add to the Health Inequalities Debate?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 99(3), pages 357-373, December.
    17. Yeatts, Dale E. & Pei, Xiaomei & Cready, Cynthia M. & Shen, Yuying & Luo, Hao & Tan, Junxin, 2013. "Village characteristics and health of rural Chinese older adults: Examining the CHARLS Pilot Study of a rich and poor province," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 71-78.

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