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The role of social capital in reducing non-specific psychological distress: The importance of controlling for omitted variable bias

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  • Scheffler, Richard M.
  • Brown, Timothy T.
  • Rice, Jennifer K.
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    Abstract

    This paper examines the relationship between area-level social capital and non-specific psychological distress. It demonstrates that not controlling for non-time-varying omitted variables can seriously bias research findings. We use data from three cross-sections of the US National Health Interview Survey (1999, 2000, and 2001): 37,172 observations nested within 58 Metropolitan Statistical Areas. We also add data from the Area Resource File and County Business Patterns. We use a validated measure of social capital, the Petris Social Capital Index (PSCI), which measures structural social capital. We estimate a two-level multilevel linear model with a random intercept. Non-specific psychological distress is measured using a valid and reliable indicator, the K6. Individual-level variables include sex, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, education, family income, smoking status, exercise status, and number of visits to a health professional. Area-level covariates include the PSCI, the unemployment rate, psychiatrists per 1000 population, non-psychiatric physicians per 1000 population, and area-level indicators to account for non-time-varying area-level omitted variable bias. Time dummies are also included. We find that lagged area-level social capital is negatively related to non-specific psychological distress among individuals whose family income is less than the median. These associations are much larger when we control for non-time-varying area-level omitted variables.

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    Bibliographic Info

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

    Volume (Year): 65 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 4 (August)
    Pages: 842-854

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:65:y:2007:i:4:p:842-854

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    Related research

    Keywords: USA Social capital Mental health;

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    Cited by:
    1. Yoon, Jangho & Brown, Timothy T., 2011. "Does the promotion of community social capital reduce obesity risk?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 296-305, May.
    2. Jonathan E. Leightner, 2013. "The Changing Effectiveness of Monetary Policy," Economies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 1(3), pages 49-64, November.
    3. Sirven, Nicolas & Debrand, Thierry, 2012. "Social capital and health of older Europeans: Causal pathways and health inequalities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(7), pages 1288-1295.
    4. Chul-Joo Lee & Daniel Kim, 2013. "A Comparative Analysis of the Validity of US State- and County-Level Social Capital Measures and Their Associations with Population Health," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 111(1), pages 307-326, March.
    5. Thierry Debrand & Nicolas Sirven, 2008. "Promoting Social Participation for Healthy Ageing - A Counterfactual Analysis from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)," Working Papers DT7, IRDES institut for research and information in health economics, revised Jan 2008.
    6. B. d'Hombres & L. Rocco & M. Suhrcke & M. McKee, 2010. "Does social capital determine health? Evidence from eight transition countries," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 56-74.
    7. 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.

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