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Neighbourhood life and social capital: the implications for health

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  • Ziersch, Anna M
  • Baum, Fran E
  • MacDougall, Colin
  • Putland, Christine

Abstract

Social capital has been linked to health outcomes, though there are some inconsistencies in the research and the link is dependent on the measures of social capital and health used. In this paper, we argue that social capital is multifaceted and its relationship with health is complex. We explore the relationship between a number of elements of neighbourhood life and neighbourhood-based social capital, and health, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The paper reports on a study of the Western suburbs of Adelaide and the analysis of 2400 questionnaires and 40 in-depth interviews. A partial least-square path analysis was undertaken with the questionnaire data. It considered the impact of perceptions of the physical environment, neighbourhood connections, neighbourhood trust, reciprocity, perceived safety and local civic action, and a number of demographic variables, on physical and mental health as measured by the SF-12. Of the neighbourhood-related variables, only perceived neighbourhood safety was related to physical health, with neighbourhood safety and neighbourhood connections related to mental health. Of the demographic variables, higher-income level and educational achievement were related to better physical and mental health. In addition, physical health was lower and mental health higher within older age groups. The inter-relationships between the neighbourhood variables and demographic differences in experience of neighbourhood were also examined. The thematic analysis of the interviews linked a number of social aspects of neighbourhood, the physical neighbourhood environment, perceptions of safety, civic activities and availability of local services, to health outcomes. The paper concludes that there is a need for more complex measures of social capital and that socio-economic factors are of relatively greater importance in determining health.

Suggested Citation

  • Ziersch, Anna M & Baum, Fran E & MacDougall, Colin & Putland, Christine, 2005. "Neighbourhood life and social capital: the implications for health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 71-86, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:60:y:2005:i:1:p:71-86
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ray Forrest & Ade Kearns, 2001. "Social Cohesion, Social Capital and the Neighbourhood," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 38(12), pages 2125-2143, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Elisabetta Santarelli & Anna De Pascale, "undated". "Economic, housing conditions and health of old people in Italy: evidence from EU-SILC," Working Papers 99/12, Sapienza University of Rome, Metodi e modelli per l'economia, il territorio e la finanza MEMOTEF.
    2. Ziersch, Anna M., 2005. "Health implications of access to social capital: findings from an Australian study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(10), pages 2119-2131, November.
    3. De Silva, Mary J. & Huttly, Sharon R. & Harpham, Trudy & Kenward, Michael G., 2007. "Social capital and mental health: A comparative analysis of four low income countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 5-20, January.
    4. Mier, Nelda & Ory, Marcia G. & Zhan, Dongling & Conkling, Martha & Sharkey, Joseph R. & Burdine, James N., 2008. "Health-related quality of life among Mexican Americans living in colonias at the Texas-Mexico border," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(8), pages 1760-1771, April.
    5. Pronyk, Paul M. & Harpham, Trudy & Busza, Joanna & Phetla, Godfrey & Morison, Linda A. & Hargreaves, James R. & Kim, Julia C. & Watts, Charlotte H. & Porter, John D., 2008. "Can social capital be intentionally generated? A randomized trial from rural South Africa," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(10), pages 1559-1570, November.
    6. Curry, Aaron & Latkin, Carl & Davey-Rothwell, Melissa, 2008. "Pathways to depression: The impact of neighborhood violent crime on inner-city residents in Baltimore, Maryland, USA," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 23-30, July.
    7. Phongsavan, Philayrath & Chey, Tien & Bauman, Adrian & Brooks, Robert & Silove, Derrick, 2006. "Social capital, socio-economic status and psychological distress among Australian adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(10), pages 2546-2561, November.
    8. Cerin, Ester & Leslie, Eva & Owen, Neville, 2009. "Explaining socio-economic status differences in walking for transport: An ecological analysis of individual, social and environmental factors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1013-1020, March.
    9. Wilson-Genderson, Maureen & Pruchno, Rachel, 2013. "Effects of neighborhood violence and perceptions of neighborhood safety on depressive symptoms of older adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 43-49.
    10. Walsh, Kieran & Gannon, Brenda, 2011. "Perceived neighbourhood context, disability onset and old age," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 631-636.
    11. Mithen, Johanna & Aitken, Zoe & Ziersch, Anne & Kavanagh, Anne M., 2015. "Inequalities in social capital and health between people with and without disabilities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 26-35.
    12. Khaksar, Seyed Mohammad Sadegh & Khosla, Rajiv & Chu, Mei Tai & Shahmehr, Fatemeh S., 2016. "Service Innovation Using Social Robot to Reduce Social Vulnerability among Older People in Residential Care Facilities," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 113(PB), pages 438-453.
    13. Eriksson, Malin & Emmelin, Maria, 2013. "What constitutes a health-enabling neighborhood? A grounded theory situational analysis addressing the significance of social capital and gender," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 112-123.
    14. Carpiano, Richard M. & Fitterer, Lisa M., 2014. "Questions of trust in health research on social capital: What aspects of personal network social capital do they measure?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 225-234.
    15. Giulia El-Dardiry & Christine Dimitrakaki & Chara Tzavara & Ulrike Ravens-Sieberer & Yannis Tountas, 2012. "Child Health-Related Quality of Life and Parental Social Capital in Greece: An Exploratory Study," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 105(1), pages 75-92, January.
    16. Chiara Rollero & Silvia Gattino & Norma De Piccoli, 2014. "A Gender Lens on Quality of Life: The Role of Sense of Community, Perceived Social Support, Self-Reported Health and Income," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 116(3), pages 887-898, May.
    17. De Clercq, B. & Vyncke, V. & Hublet, A. & Elgar, F.J. & Ravens-Sieberer, U. & Currie, C. & Hooghe, M. & Ieven, A. & Maes, L., 2012. "Social capital and social inequality in adolescents’ health in 601 Flemish communities: A multilevel analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 202-210.
    18. Meghan Condon & Lesley Lavery & Par Jason Engle, 2016. "Measuring Social Capital: Accounting for Nested Data and Subnetworks Within Schools," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 126(3), pages 1189-1207, April.

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