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Social capital in working life and the health of employees


  • Liukkonen, Virpi
  • Virtanen, Pekka
  • Kivimäki, Mika
  • Pentti, Jaana
  • Vahtera, Jussi


It is commonly assumed that social capital influences health, but only few studies have examined this hypothesis in the context of the workplace. The present prospective cohort study of 6028 public sector employees in Finland investigated social capital as a workplace characteristic which potentially affects employee health. The two indicators of social capital were trust in the labour market, measured by security of the employment contract, and trust in co-worker support. Self-rated health status and psychological distress were used as indicators of health. The combination of subsidised job contract and low co-worker support (i.e. the lowest category of social capital) was associated with poorer health prospects than the combination of permanent employment and high support (the highest social capital category) in an age-adjusted model, but this association disappeared in logistic regression analysis adjusted by sociodemographic background factors and baseline health. Fixed-term employment predicted better self-rated health and less psychological distress when compared with permanent employment. Co-worker support was most common in permanent and least common in subsidised employees and it was associated with better self-rated health in women. Our findings suggest only partial support for the hypothesis of work-related social capital as a health resource.

Suggested Citation

  • Liukkonen, Virpi & Virtanen, Pekka & Kivimäki, Mika & Pentti, Jaana & Vahtera, Jussi, 2004. "Social capital in working life and the health of employees," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(12), pages 2447-2458, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:59:y:2004:i:12:p:2447-2458

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    Cited by:

    1. Florence Jusot & Michel Grignon & Paul Dourgnon, 2007. "Psychosocial Resources and Social Health Inequalities in France: Exploratory Findings from a General Population Survey," Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis Working Paper Series 2007-05, Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis (CHEPA), McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.
    2. Fiori, Francesca & Rinesi, Francesca & Spizzichino, Daniele & Di Giorgio, Ginevra, 2016. "Employment insecurity and mental health during the economic recession: An analysis of the young adult labour force in Italy," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 90-98.
    3. Kim, Il-Ho & Muntaner, Carles & Vahid Shahidi, Faraz & Vives, Alejandra & Vanroelen, Christophe & Benach, Joan, 2012. "Welfare states, flexible employment, and health: A critical review," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 99-127.
    4. repec:dau:papers:123456789/7007 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Cullati, Stéphane, 2014. "The influence of work-family conflict trajectories on self-rated health trajectories in Switzerland: A life course approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 23-33.


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