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Social capital, geography and health: a small-area analysis for England


  • Mohan, John
  • Twigg, Liz
  • Barnard, Steve
  • Jones, Kelvyn


There has recently been much debate about the influence of social capital on health outcomes. In particular it has been suggested that levels of social capital vary from place to place and that such variations may account for previously unexplained between-place variations in health outcomes. As yet few studies exist of the influence of small-area variations in social capital on health outcomes. One reason for this is the difficulty of obtaining indicators for small areas such as electoral wards in England, and we describe a method used to derive what we term 'synthetic estimates' of aspects of social capital by linking coefficients produced from multi-level analyses of national survey datasets to census data. We produce estimates for electoral wards in England and apply these in multi-level models of our response variable, the probability of survival of individuals surveyed in the Health and Lifestyle Survey of England. We report various combinations of models incorporating individual attributes, health-related behaviours, area measures of deprivation, and area measures of social capital. Our overall conclusion is that we find little support, at this spatial scale, for the proposition that area measures of social capital exert a beneficial effect on health outcomes.

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  • Mohan, John & Twigg, Liz & Barnard, Steve & Jones, Kelvyn, 2005. "Social capital, geography and health: a small-area analysis for England," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 1267-1283, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:60:y:2005:i:6:p:1267-1283

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Vallejo-Torres, Laura & Morris, Stephen, 2010. "The contribution of smoking and obesity to income-related inequalities in health in England," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(6), pages 1189-1198, September.
    2. Hanibuchi, Tomoya & Murata, Yohei & Ichida, Yukinobu & Hirai, Hiroshi & Kawachi, Ichiro & Kondo, Katsunori, 2012. "Place-specific constructs of social capital and their possible associations to health: A Japanese case study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 225-232.
    3. Engström, Karin & Mattsson, Fredrik & Järleborg, Anders & Hallqvist, Johan, 2008. "Contextual social capital as a risk factor for poor self-rated health: A multilevel analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(11), pages 2268-2280, June.
    4. Tampubolon, Gindo, 2009. "Neighbourhood social capital and individual mental health," MPRA Paper 16778, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Eriksson, Malin & Ng, Nawi & Weinehall, Lars & Emmelin, Maria, 2011. "The importance of gender and conceptualization for understanding the association between collective social capital and health: A multilevel analysis from northern Sweden," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 264-273, July.
    6. Fujisawa, Yoshikazu & Hamano, Tsuyoshi & Takegawa, Shogo, 2009. "Social capital and perceived health in Japan: An ecological and multilevel analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 500-505, August.
    7. Poortinga, Wouter, 2006. "Perceptions of the environment, physical activity, and obesity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(11), pages 2835-2846, December.
    8. Matsubayashi, Tetsuya & Sawada, Yasuyuki & Ueda, Michiko, 2013. "Natural disasters and suicide: Evidence from Japan," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 126-133.
    9. Islam, M. Kamrul & Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Gullberg, Bo & Lindström, Martin & Merlo, Juan, 2008. "Social capital externalities and mortality in Sweden," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 19-42, March.
    10. Ichida, Yukinobu & Kondo, Katsunori & Hirai, Hiroshi & Hanibuchi, Tomoya & Yoshikawa, Goshu & Murata, Chiyoe, 2009. "Social capital, income inequality and self-rated health in Chita peninsula, Japan: a multilevel analysis of older people in 25 communities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 489-499, August.
    11. Verhaeghe, Pieter-Paul & Tampubolon, Gindo, 2012. "Individual social capital, neighbourhood deprivation, and self-rated health in England," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 349-357.
    12. Folland, Sherman, 2007. "Does "community social capital" contribute to population health?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(11), pages 2342-2354, June.
    13. Han, Sehee, 2013. "Compositional and contextual associations of social capital and self-rated health in Seoul, South Korea: A multilevel analysis of longitudinal evidence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 113-120.
    14. Edwards, Kimberley L. & Clarke, Graham P., 2009. "The design and validation of a spatial microsimulation model of obesogenic environments for children in Leeds, UK: SimObesity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(7), pages 1127-1134, October.
    15. Syam Prasad, 2011. "Deprevation and vulnerability among elderly in India," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2011-013, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
    16. 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.
    17. Poortinga, Wouter, 2006. "Social capital: An individual or collective resource for health?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 292-302, January.


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