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Social capital and health: a meta-analysis

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  • Xue, Xindong
  • Reed, W. Robert
  • Menclova, Andrea

Abstract

The relationship between social capital and health has received extensive attention in fields such as public health, medicine, epidemiology, gerontology and other health-related disciplines. In contrast, the economics literature on this subject is relatively small. To address this research gap, we investigate the cross-disciplinary empirical literature using meta-analysis. We analyze 12,778 estimates from 470 studies. Our analysis finds that social capital is significantly related to a variety of positive health outcomes. However, the effect sizes are consistently very small. This finding is robust across different types of social capital (e.g., cognitive, structural, bonding, bridging, linking), and for many different measures of health outcomes (e.g., mortality, disease/illnesses, depression). The small effects that we estimate cast doubt on recent initiatives to promote health through social capital such as those by the WHO, the OECD, and US Healthy People 2020.

Suggested Citation

  • Xue, Xindong & Reed, W. Robert & Menclova, Andrea, 2020. "Social capital and health: a meta-analysis," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:72:y:2020:i:c:s0167629619300141
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2020.102317
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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastian Gechert & Tomas Havranek & Zuzana Irsova & Dominika Kolcunova, . "Measuring Capital-Labor Substitution: The Importance of Method Choices and Publication Bias"," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Zigraiova, Diana & Havranek, Tomas & Irsova, Zuzana & Novak, Jiri, 2021. "How puzzling is the forward premium puzzle? A meta-analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    3. Borgonovi, Francesca & Andrieu, Elodie, 2020. "Bowling together by bowling alone: Social capital and COVID-19," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 265(C).
    4. Tomáš Havránek & T. D. Stanley & Hristos Doucouliagos & Pedro Bom & Jerome Geyer‐Klingeberg & Ichiro Iwasaki & W. Robert Reed & Katja Rost & R. C. M. van Aert, 2020. "Reporting Guidelines For Meta‐Analysis In Economics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(3), pages 469-475, July.
    5. Mohammad Javad Koohsari & Akitomo Yasunaga & Ai Shibata & Kaori Ishii & Rina Miyawaki & Kuniko Araki & Tomoki Nakaya & Tomoya Hanibuchi & Gavin R. McCormack & Koichiro Oka, 2021. "Dog ownership, dog walking, and social capital," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 8(1), pages 1-6, December.
    6. Sebastian Gechert & Tomas Havranek & Zuzana Irsova & Dominika Kolcunova, . "Measuring Capital-Labor Substitution: The Importance of Method Choices and Publication Bias"," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social capital; Health; Meta-analysis; Mental health; Physical health; Self-reported health;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B49 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Other
    • C49 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Other
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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    1. Meta-Analysis in Economics

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