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Social capital, economics, and health: new evidence

Author

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  • SCHEFFLER, RICHARD M.
  • BROWN, TIMOTHY T.

Abstract

In introducing this Special Issue on Social Capital and Health, this article tracks the popularization of the term ‘social capital’ and sheds light on the controversy surrounding the term and its definitions. It sets out four mechanisms that link social capital with health: making information available to community members, impacting social norms, enhancing the health care services and their accessibility in a community, and offering psychosocial support networks. Approaches to the measurement of social capital include the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey (SCCBS) developed by Robert Putnam, and the Petris Social Capital Index (PSCI), which looks at community voluntary organizations using public data available for the entire United States. The article defines community social capital (CSC) as the extent and density of trust, cooperation, and associational links and activity within a given population. Four articles on CSC are introduced in two categories: those that address behaviors – particularly utilization of health services and use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs; and those that look at links between social capital and physical or mental health. Policy implications include: funding and/or tax subsidies that would support the creation of social capital; laws and regulations; and generation of enthusiasm among communities and leaders to develop social capital. The next steps in the research programme are to continue testing the mechanisms; to look for natural experiments; and to find better public policies to foster social capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Scheffler, Richard M. & Brown, Timothy T., 2008. "Social capital, economics, and health: new evidence," Health Economics, Policy and Law, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(04), pages 321-331, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:hecopl:v:3:y:2008:i:04:p:321-331_00
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    Cited by:

    1. Fiorillo, Damiano & Sabatini, Fabio, 2015. "Structural social capital and health in Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 129-142.
    2. Yamamura, Eiji, 2011. "Different effects of social capital on health status among residents: Evidence from modern Japan," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 475-479.
    3. Eiji Yamamura, 2011. "Differences in the effect of social capital on health status between workers and non-workers," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 58(4), pages 385-400, December.
    4. Yamamura, Eiji, 2015. "Social capital and views on suicide via the internet: a study using survey data," MPRA Paper 64071, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. 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.
    6. Liu, Gordon G. & Xue, Xindong & Yu, Chenxi & Wang, Yafeng, 2016. "How does social capital matter to the health status of older adults? Evidence from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 177-189.
    7. Sheabo Dessalegn, S., 2017. "Social capital and maternal health care use in rural Ethiopia," Other publications TiSEM bb0ec225-4ec3-4028-90d6-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    8. Adriana Castelli & Rowena Jacobs & Maria Goddard & Peter C Smith, 2009. "Exploring the impact of public services on quality of life indicators," Working Papers 046cherp, Centre for Health Economics, University of York.
    9. repec:kap:poprpr:v:36:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s11113-017-9431-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Kritsotakis, George & Vassilaki, Maria & Chatzi, Leda & Georgiou, Vaggelis & Philalithis, Anastassios E. & Kogevinas, Manolis & Koutis, Antonis, 2011. "Maternal social capital and birth outcomes in the mother–child cohort in Crete, Greece (Rhea study)," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(11), pages 1653-1660.
    11. Bisung, Elijah & Elliott, Susan J., 2014. "Toward a social capital based framework for understanding the water-health nexus," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 194-200.

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