Tag Archives: wellbeing

History of Social Capital and Health

March 1, 2021

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M. Kamrul Islam notes the criticisms of the present state of social capital research as: the difficulty of measuring the elements of social capital, thus the need to find better ways to measure it, also, to better address its effect in communities overall. But perhaps most important is the need to find and measure ways to increase it.

History of Social Capital
Aerial view of crowd connected by lines. Credit: Orbon Alija
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Social Capital and Economic Growth

March 1, 2021

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Soumyananda Dinda explains that human capital and social capital are closely related and together are useful to realizing economic growth.

Economic Growth
Farmer hand holding young plant. Credit: jchizhe
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How Does Social Capital Contribute to Health?

January 12, 2021

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In the latest in a series of topical blog pieces, Sherman Folland examines the relationship between social capital and wellbeing.

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Social Capital and Health Across the Life Cycle

December 7, 2020

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Eric Nauenberg explores the changing dynamics of social capital and health across the lifecycle.

One of the major questions not asked with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic regards the impact of the pandemic on health owing to a potential sudden shock to an individual’s stock of social capital in terms of one’s network of friends and family. It is likely with social distancing and other isolation measures in place to contain the pandemic that many people have experienced a sudden depletion in this stock – an inventory which may or may not be fully recoverable in the future.

Just as the structure of the employment landscape may be permanently altered – so too may social interactions be permanently altered in ways that may not perfectly substitute for existing social structures established over time. The life-cycle model of general consumption – developed by Modigliani and Brumberg (1954, 1980) positing an inverted U-shaped pattern as one ages – is likely applicable to social capital as well in normal times, but these times are anything but normal and the patterns may have been permanently altered in some manner that is yet to be seen. 

In Chapter 5 of The Elgar Companion to Social Capital and Health dealing with social capital and health over the life cycle, I bring up the issue of virtual “social media” relationships beginning to dominate over in-person relationships and whether they serve as substitutes for the latter (Nauenberg, 2018). This pandemic has potentially further increased this dominance having ramifications for the level of support a person experiences in his/her daily life. My supposition is that the bonds that tie virtual relationships are likely to be much weaker than those that bond in-person relationships; therefore, the level of support that people may be experiencing may be substantially decreased during the pandemic and may never bounce back to baseline.

What is curious presently is that the virtual world of social relationships is now suddenly become the predominant form of relating in many areas of the working world through Zoom® and Microsoft Teams® and whatever support structures that may be present in the workforce may also emulate the patterns that are being experienced amongst one’s social circle. The same goes for school-age children particularly if on-line learning continues far into the current school year. There is a further curious trend in this pandemic that warrants some mention. It has been found that men are more at risk for worse outcomes than females across the age distribution. While both genders have the same prevalence, men have higher mortality (Jin, Bai, and He et al., 2020). In the chapter, I mention the worldwide phenomenon for men under the age of 65 to increasingly live alone. While more women live alone over the age of 65, this gap too has narrowed in recent years (United Nations Statistics Division, 2017). While there may be clinical reasons for this difference across genders in terms of differences in physical health and prevalence of pre-existing conditions, it is entirely plausible that lower levels of social capital amongst men than amongst women may potentially play a role as well. I will await the published literature to “weigh-in” on this issue.

Eric Nauenberg, Ph.D. is a Member of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, CA.

Elgar Companion to Social Capital and Health edited by Sherman Folland and Eric Nauenberg is out now.

Read chapter one free on Elgaronline

Also on ElgarBlog:

Why Trust is Good for your Health by Martin Ljunge. Read Martin Ljunge’s chapter Trust promotes health: addressing reverse causality by studying children of immigrants 

The Importance of being Social –Sherman Folland investigates the influential role social capital plays in mental health and physical wellbeing.

Religious Capital, Social Capital and Health Ephraim Shapiro and Chen Sharony explore the link between religion and health

Does Health Affect Social Capital Hope Corman, Kelly Noonan, and Nancy E. Reichman examine the relationship between health and social capital.

Social Capital in Epidemiology, Martin Lindströ mexplores the link between religion, social capital and health.

Social Capital and Aging Brain Health Nicole Anderson explores the relationship between social capital and the health of the brain as it ages.

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Social Capital in Epidemiology

December 7, 2020

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Martin Lindström explores the link between religion, social capital and health.

Early studies in epidemiology followed Putnam’s (1993) method in his study of social capital effects in Italy. With contextual methods, which he generally used, effects were measured as the degree of trust in other people, reciprocity in personal relations, and social and civic participation in areas such as communities, cities, states or countries.  The social capital benefits to health were seen as reductions in psychosocial stress which derived initially for the individual, but they also fit the context approach as well. The sociology model of networks emphasizes the individual contacts with others, each of which draws benefits from the group. An early stage of epidemiology developed a focus on bonding, bridging, and linking social groups. Ecological studies focused on the relations of social capital, income inequality, and mortality, though Lindstrom explains how this poses risks, in that risk results for the individual associations with health may differ from the ecology measured effects: the ecological fallacy.

Prof. Lindstrom reasons that multilevel studies improve on these approaches and address many of their problems in epidemiology. These take two or more measures, for contextual effects and individual effects and study them jointly at different levels of analysis. Contextual properties of an area are often measured in two ways: as an average individual item, such as aspects of trust, social participation and reciprocity; the second has been to use measures more directly from whole area variables such as voting, migration turnover, and high population turnover. For example, voting and high area election participation may indicate more area concern for the community (Islam et al. 2008). Like many researchers Lindstrom emphasizes longitudinal versus cross-section studies, as models with many observations over time may clarify issues of causality. Prior social capital can help to identify how it improves health, but prior health may also improve social capital. This reverse causality can derive when healthier people have better mobility and visit friends and join social groups more often (Rocco et al, 2014). Often other studies have used the Petris Index which measures area wide social capital by average attendance in social groups, which has been found associated with better health, for example indicated by acute coronary symptoms in low income people.

Martin Lindstrom, who has contributed much social capital research from its early years to the present day, explains the methodological improvements over time to the development of multilevel studies in epidemiology. He also explains how the contextual approach and individual methods have been handled over time with the needed understanding and improvements in methods. Read more in his chapter Social capital in epidemiology in the Elgar Companion to Social Capital and Health

Professor Lindstrom is Professor of Social Medicine and Health Policy, Department of Clinical Sciences in Malmo, Lund University, Sweden.

Elgar Companion to Social Capital and Health edited by Sherman Folland and Eric Nauenberg is out now.

Read chapter one free on Elgaronline

Also on ElgarBlog:

Why Trust is Good for your Health by Martin Ljunge. Read Martin Ljunge’s chapter Trust promotes health: addressing reverse causality by studying children of immigrants 

The Importance of being Social –Sherman Folland investigates the influential role social capital plays in mental health and physical wellbeing.

Religious Capital, Social Capital and Health Ephraim Shapiro and Chen Sharony explore the link between religion and health

Does Health Affect Social Capital Hope Corman, Kelly Noonan, and Nancy E. Reichman examine the relationship between health and social capital.

Continue reading...
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