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Social capital and self-rated health – A study of temporal (causal) relationships

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  • Giordano, Giuseppe Nicola
  • Björk, Jonas
  • Lindström, Martin
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    Abstract

    Despite the vast amount of research over the past fifteen years, there is still lively debate surrounding the role of social capital on individual health outcomes. This seems to stem from a lack of consistency regarding the definition, measurement and plausible theories linking this contextual phenomenon to health. We have further identified a knowledge gap within this field – a distinct lack of research investigating temporal relationships between social capital and health outcomes. To remedy this shortfall, we use four waves of the British Household Panel Survey to follow the same individuals (N = 8114) between years 2000 and 2007. We investigate temporal relationships and association between our outcome variable self-rated health (SRH) and time-lagged explanatory variables, including three individual-level social capital proxies and other well-known health determinants. Our results suggest that levels of the social capital proxy ‘generalised trust’ at time point (t − 1) are positively associated with SRH at subsequent time point (t), even after taking into consideration levels of other well-known health determinants (such as smoking status) at time point (t − 1). That we investigate temporal relationships at four separate occasions over the seven-year period lends considerable weight to our results and the argument that generalised trust is an independent predictor of individual health. However, lack of consensus across a variety of disciplines as to what generalised trust is believed to measure creates ambiguity when attempting to identify possible pathways from higher trust to better health.

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    Bibliographic Info

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

    Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 340-348

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:2:p:340-348

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    Related research

    Keywords: United Kingdom; Social capital; Self-rated health; Generalised trust; Temporal relationships; Lagged explanatory variables; Causality;

    References

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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846, August.
      • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    2. Rabe-Hesketh, Sophia & Skrondal, Anders & Pickles, Andrew, 2005. "Maximum likelihood estimation of limited and discrete dependent variable models with nested random effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 128(2), pages 301-323, October.
    3. Lopez, Russ, 2004. "Income inequality and self-rated health in US metropolitan areas: A multi-level analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(12), pages 2409-2419, December.
    4. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Smeeding, Timothy M. & Merz, Joachim, 1994. "Relative Inequality and Poverty in Germany and the United States Using Alternative Equivalence Scales," MPRA Paper 7229, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Lasker, Judith N. & Egolf, Brenda P. & Wolf, Stewart, 1994. "Community social change and mortality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 53-62, July.
    6. Fujisawa, Yoshikazu & Hamano, Tsuyoshi & Takegawa, Shogo, 2009. "Social capital and perceived health in Japan: An ecological and multilevel analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 500-505, August.
    7. Snelgrove, John W. & Pikhart, Hynek & Stafford, Mai, 2009. "A multilevel analysis of social capital and self-rated health: Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(11), pages 1993-2001, June.
    8. Eric M. Uslaner, 2008. "The foundations of trust: macro and micro," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 289-294, March.
    9. Giordano, Giuseppe N. & Lindstrom, Martin, 2010. "The impact of changes in different aspects of social capital and material conditions on self-rated health over time: A longitudinal cohort study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(5), pages 700-710, March.
    10. Poortinga, Wouter, 2006. "Social relations or social capital? Individual and community health effects of bonding social capital," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 255-270, July.
    11. Hawe, Penelope & Shiell, Alan, 2000. "Social capital and health promotion: a review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 871-885, September.
    12. Veenstra, Gerry, 2000. "Social capital, SES and health: an individual-level analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 619-629, March.
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    Cited by:
    1. 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.
    2. Muennig, Peter & Cohen, Alison K. & Palmer, Aileen & Zhu, Wenyi, 2013. "The relationship between five different measures of structural social capital, medical examination outcomes, and mortality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 18-26.

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