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Social capital and health of older Europeans: Causal pathways and health inequalities

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  • Sirven, Nicolas
  • Debrand, Thierry

Abstract

This study uses a time-based approach to examine the causal relationship (Granger-like) between health and social capital for older people in Europe. We use panel data from waves 1 and 2 of SHARE (the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe) for the analysis. Additional wave 3 data on retrospective life histories (SHARELIFE) are used to model the initial conditions in the model. For each of the first 2 waves, a dummy variable for involvement in social activities (voluntary associations, church, social clubs, etc.) is used as a proxy for social capital as involvement in Putnamesque associations; and seven health dichotomous variables are retained, covering a wide range of physical and mental health measures. A bivariate recursive Probit model is used to simultaneously investigate (i) the influence of baseline social capital on current health – controlling for baseline health and other current covariates, and (ii) the impact of baseline health on current participation in social activities – controlling for baseline social capital and other current covariates. As expected, we account for a reversed causal effect: individual social capital has a causal beneficial impact on health and vice-versa. However, the effect of health on social capital appears to be significantly higher than the social capital effect on health. These results indicate that the sub-population reaching 50 years old in good health has a higher propensity to take part in social activities and to benefit from it. Conversely, the other part of the population in poor health at 50, may see their health worsening faster because of the missing beneficial effect of social capital. Social capital may therefore be a potential vector of health inequalities for the older population.

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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
Issue (Month): 7 ()
Pages: 1288-1295

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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:7:p:1288-1295

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Related research

Keywords: Healthy ageing; Social capital; Health inequality; Granger causality; Panel data; Europe;

References

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  1. Sirven, Nicolas & Debrand, Thierry, 2008. "Social participation and healthy ageing: An international comparison using SHARE data," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(12), pages 2017-2026, December.
  2. d'Hombres, Beatrice & Rocco, Lorenzo & Suhrcke, Marc & McKee, Martin, 2006. "Does social capital determine health? Evidence from eight transition countries," MPRA Paper 1862, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Greiner, K. Allen & Li, Chaoyang & Kawachi, Ichiro & Hunt, D. Charles & Ahluwalia, Jasjit S., 2004. "The relationships of social participation and community ratings to health and health behaviors in areas with high and low population density," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(11), pages 2303-2312, December.
  4. Ellaway, Anne & Macintyre, Sally, 2007. "Is social participation associated with cardiovascular disease risk factors?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(7), pages 1384-1391, April.
  5. Kondo, Naoki & Minai, Junko & Imai, Hisashi & Yamagata, Zentaro, 2007. "Engagement in a cohesive group and higher-level functional capacity in older adults in Japan: A case of the Mujin," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(11), pages 2311-2323, June.
  6. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  7. Folland, Sherman, 2008. "An economic model of social capital and health," Health Economics, Policy and Law, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(04), pages 333-348, October.
  8. Scheffler, Richard M. & Brown, Timothy T. & Rice, Jennifer K., 2007. "The role of social capital in reducing non-specific psychological distress: The importance of controlling for omitted variable bias," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 842-854, August.
  9. Stéphane Adam & Christelle Bay & Eric Bonsang & Sophie Germain & Sergio Perelman, 2006. "Occupational Activities and Cognitive Reserve: a Frontier Approach Applied to the Survey on Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe," CREPP Working Papers 0605, Centre de Recherche en Economie Publique et de la Population (CREPP) (Research Center on Public and Population Economics) HEC-Management School, University of Liège.
  10. Timothy T. Brown & Richard M. Scheffler & Sukyong Seo & Mary Reed, 2006. "The empirical relationship between community social capital and the demand for cigarettes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(11), pages 1159-1172.
  11. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2005. "Simple solutions to the initial conditions problem in dynamic, nonlinear panel data models with unobserved heterogeneity," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(1), pages 39-54.
  12. Folland, Sherman, 2007. "Does "community social capital" contribute to population health?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(11), pages 2342-2354, June.
  13. Edward L. Glaeser & David Laibson & Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "An Economic Approach to Social Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 437-458, November.
  14. Keane, Michael P, 1992. "A Note on Identification in the Multinomial Probit Model," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 10(2), pages 193-200, April.
  15. Olsen, Karen M. & Dahl, Svenn-Åge, 2007. "Health differences between European countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(8), pages 1665-1678, April.
  16. 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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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Nicolas Sirven, 2012. "On the Socio-Economic Determinants of Frailty: Findings from Panel and Retrospective Data from SHARE," Working Papers DT52, IRDES institut for research and information in health economics, revised Dec 2012.
  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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