Does social capital enhance health and well-being? Evidence from rural China
Despite increasing acknowledgement that social capital is an important determinant of health and overall well-being, empirical evidence regarding the direction and strength of these linkages in the developing world is limited and inconclusive. This paper empirically examines relationships between social capital and health and well-being--as well as the suitability of commonly used social capital measures--in rural China, where rapid economic growth coexists with gradual and fundamental social changes. To measure social capital, we adopt a structural/cognitive distinction, whereby structural social capital is measured by organizational membership and cognitive social capital is measured by a composite index of trust, reciprocity, and mutual help. Our outcome measures included self-reported general health, psychological health, and subjective well-being. We adopt multi-level estimation methods to account for our conceptualization of social capital as both an individual- and contextual-level resource. Results indicate that cognitive social capital (i.e., trust) is positively associated with all three outcome measures at the individual level and psychological health/subjective well-being at the village level as well. We further find that trust affects health and well-being through pathways of social network and support. In contrast, there is little statistical association or consistent pattern between structural social capital (organizational membership) and the outcome variables. Furthermore, although organizational membership is highly correlated with collective action, neither is associated with health or well-being. Our results suggest that policies aimed at producing an environment that enhances social networks and facilitates the exchange of social support hold promise for improving the health and well-being of the rural Chinese population. In addition, China may not have fully taken advantage of the potential contribution of structural social capital in advancing health and well-being. A redirection of collective action from economic to social activities may be worth considering.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 64 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description|
|Order Information:|| Postal: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/supportfaq.cws_home/regional|
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:64:y:2007:i:1:p:35-49. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.