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Social capital and social inequality in adolescents’ health in 601 Flemish communities: A multilevel analysis

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  • De Clercq, B.
  • Vyncke, V.
  • Hublet, A.
  • Elgar, F.J.
  • Ravens-Sieberer, U.
  • Currie, C.
  • Hooghe, M.
  • Ieven, A.
  • Maes, L.

Abstract

Although it is widely acknowledged that community social capital plays an important role in young people’s health, there is limited evidence on the effect of community social capital on the social gradient in child and adolescent health. Using data from the 2005–2006 Flemish (Belgium) Health Behavior among School-aged Children survey (601 communities, n = 10,915), this study investigated whether community social capital is an independent determinant of adolescents’ perceived health and well-being after taking account of individual compositional characteristics (e.g. the gender composition within a certain community). Multilevel statistical procedures were used to estimate neighborhood effects while controlling for individual level effects. Results show that individual level factors (such as family affluence and individual social capital) are positively related to perceived health and well-being and that community level social capital predicted health better than individual social capital. A significant complex interaction effect was found, such that the social gradient in perceived health and well-being (i.e. the slope of family affluence on health) was flattened in communities with a high level of community social capital. Furthermore it seems that socioeconomic status differences in perceived health and well-being substantially narrow in communities where a certain (average) level of community social capital is present. This should mean that individuals living in communities with a low level of community social capital especially benefit from an increase in community social capital. The paper substantiates the need to connect individual health to their meso socioeconomic context and this being intrinsically within a multilevel framework.

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:74:y:2012:i:2:p:202-210
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.10.025
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    2. Nielsen, Line & Koushede, Vibeke & Vinther-Larsen, Mathilde & Bendtsen, Pernille & Ersbøll, Annette Kjær & Due, Pernille & Holstein, Bjørn E., 2015. "Does school social capital modify socioeconomic inequality in mental health? A multi-level analysis in Danish schools," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 35-43.
    3. Sibylle Puntscher & Christoph Hauser & Janette Walde & Gottfried Tappeiner, 2016. "Measuring Social Capital with Aggregated Indicators: A Case of Ecological Fallacy?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 431-449, January.
    4. Laurence, James, 2019. "Community disadvantage, inequalities in adolescent subjective well-being, and local social relations: The role of positive and negative social interactions," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 237(C), pages 1-1.
    5. Sibylle Puntscher & Christoph Hauser & Janette Walde & Gottfried Tappeiner, 2016. "Measuring Social Capital with Aggregated Indicators: A Case of Ecological Fallacy?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 431-449, January.
    6. Reininger, Belinda M. & Rahbar, Mohammad H. & Lee, MinJae & Chen, Zhongxue & Alam, Sartaj R. & Pope, Jennifer & Adams, Barbara, 2013. "Social capital and disaster preparedness among low income Mexican Americans in a disaster prone area," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 50-60.
    7. Herberholz, Chantal & Phuntsho, Sonam, 2018. "Social capital, outpatient care utilization and choice between different levels of health facilities in rural and urban areas of Bhutan," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 211(C), pages 102-113.

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