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Social capital and health in Australia: An overview from the household, income and labour dynamics in Australia survey

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  • Berry, Helen Louise
  • Welsh, Jennifer A.

Abstract

Social capital is associated with better health, but components of social capital and their associations with different types of health are rarely explored together. The aim of this study was to use nationally representative data to develop population norms of community participation and explore the relationships between structural and cognitive components of social capital with three forms of health - general health, mental health and physical functioning. Data were taken from Wave 6 (2006) of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey. Using individual-level data, the structural component of social capital (community participation) was measured using a twelve-item short-form of the Australian Community Participation Questionnaire, and the cognitive component (social cohesion) by sense of belonging, tangible support, trust and reciprocity. Three subscales of the SF-36 provided measures of health. Multiple hierarchical regression modelling was used to investigate multivariate relationships among these factors. Higher levels of participation were related to higher levels of social cohesion and to all three forms of (better) health, particularly strongly to mental health. These findings could not be accounted for by sex, age, Indigenous status, education, responsibility for dependents, paid work, living alone or poverty. Controlling for these and physical health, structural and cognitive components of social capital were each related to mental health, with support for a possible mediated relationship between the structural component and mental health. Social capital was related to three forms of health, especially to mental health. Notable gender differences in this relationship were evident, with women reporting greater community participation and social cohesion than men, yet worse mental health. Understanding the mechanisms underlying this apparent anomaly needs further exploration. Because community participation is amenable to intervention, subject to causal testing, our findings may assist in the development of programs which are effective in promoting social cohesion and, thereby, mental health.

Suggested Citation

  • Berry, Helen Louise & Welsh, Jennifer A., 2010. "Social capital and health in Australia: An overview from the household, income and labour dynamics in Australia survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(4), pages 588-596, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:70:y:2010:i:4:p:588-596
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Eiji Yamamura, 2011. "Differences in the effect of social capital on health status between workers and non-workers," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 58(4), pages 385-400, December.
    2. Fiorillo, Damiano & Sabatini, Fabio, 2015. "Structural social capital and health in Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 129-142.
    3. Sehee Han & Heaseung Kim & Eung-Sun Lee & Hee-Sun Lee, 2013. "The Contextual and Compositional Associations of Social Capital and Subjective Happiness: A Multilevel Analysis from Seoul, South Korea," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 1183-1200, August.
    4. Xindong Xue & W. Robert Reed, 2015. "The Relationship Between Social Capital And Health In China," Working Papers in Economics 15/05, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
    5. Rung, Ariane L. & Gaston, Symielle & Robinson, William T. & Trapido, Edward J. & Peters, Edward S., 2017. "Untangling the disaster-depression knot: The role of social ties after Deepwater Horizon," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 19-26.
    6. Xue, Xindong & Mo, Erxiao & Reed, W. Robert, 2016. "The relationship between social capital and self-reported health in China," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 10, pages 1-44.
    7. Landstedt, Evelina & Almquist, Ylva B. & Eriksson, Malin & Hammarström, Anne, 2016. "Disentangling the directions of associations between structural social capital and mental health: Longitudinal analyses of gender, civic engagement and depressive symptoms," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 135-143.
    8. Fiorillo, Damiano & Sabatini, Fabio, 2011. "Quality and quantity: the role of social interactions in individual health," AICCON Working Papers 84-2011, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
    9. Fiorillo, Damiano & Sabatini, Fabio, 2011. "Quality and quantity: The role of social interactions in self-reported individual health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(11), pages 1644-1652.
    10. repec:spr:endesu:v:19:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10668-016-9771-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Sehee Han & Heaseung Kim & Hee-Sun Lee, 2013. "A Multilevel Analysis of the Compositional and Contextual Association of Social Capital and Subjective Well-Being in Seoul, South Korea," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 111(1), pages 185-202, March.
    12. Chau-kiu Cheung, 2013. "Morale in Relation to Caring and Social Exclusion in Society," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 471-490, August.
    13. Francisco Perales, 2016. "The Costs of Being “Different”: Sexual Identity and Subjective Wellbeing over the Life Course," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 127(2), pages 827-849, June.
    14. Chau-kiu Cheung & Kwan-kwok Leung, 2012. "Social Mitigation of the Impact of Urban Renewal on Residents’ Morale," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 106(3), pages 523-543, May.
    15. Ceri Wilson & Jenny Secker, 2015. "Validation of the Social Inclusion Scale with Students," Social Inclusion, Cogitatio Press, vol. 3(4), pages 52-62.
    16. 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.
    17. Nicole Watson & Mark Wooden, 2010. "The HILDA Survey: Progress and Future Developments," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 43(3), pages 326-336.
    18. Wind, Tim R. & Komproe, Ivan H., 2012. "The mechanisms that associate community social capital with post-disaster mental health: A multilevel model," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(9), pages 1715-1720.
    19. Amir Bastaminia & Omid Fakhraie & Mohammad Alizadeh & Azam Bani Asadi & Maryam Dastoorpoor, 2016. "Social Capital and Quality of Life among University Students of Yasuj, Iran," International Journal of Social Science Studies, Redfame publishing, vol. 4(11), pages 9-18, November.
    20. Liu, Gordon G. & Xue, Xindong & Yu, Chenxi & Wang, Yafeng, 2016. "How does social capital matter to the health status of older adults? Evidence from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 177-189.
    21. Verduin, Femke & Smid, Geert E. & Wind, Tim R. & Scholte, Willem F., 2014. "In search of links between social capital, mental health and sociotherapy: A longitudinal study in Rwanda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 1-9.
    22. repec:eee:ecomod:v:356:y:2017:i:c:p:1-13 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Zhen Zhang & Jianxin Zhang, 2015. "Social Participation and Subjective Well-Being Among Retirees in China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 143-160, August.
    24. Haslam, Catherine & Cruwys, Tegan & Haslam, S. Alexander, 2014. "“The we's have it”: Evidence for the distinctive benefits of group engagement in enhancing cognitive health in aging," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 57-66.
    25. Ding, Ning & Berry, Helen L. & O'Brien, Léan V., 2015. "One-year reciprocal relationship between community participation and mental wellbeing in Australia: A panel analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 246-254.

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