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The importance of gender and conceptualization for understanding the association between collective social capital and health: a multilevel analysis from northern Sweden
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0108-4237
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health. (Arcum)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0556-1483
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health. (Arcum)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3025-2690
2011 (English)In: Social Science and Medicine, ISSN 0277-9536, E-ISSN 1873-5347, Vol. 73, no 2, 264-273 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Growing research on social capital and health has fuelled the debate on whether there is a place effect on health. A central question is whether health inequality between places is due to differences in the composition of people living in these places (compositional effect) or differences in the local social and physical environments (contextual effects). Despite extensive use of multilevel approaches that allows controlling for whether the effects of collective social capital are confounded by access to social capital at the individual level, the picture remains unclear. Recent studies indicate that contextual effects on health may vary for different population subgroups and measuring "average" contextual effects on health for a whole population might therefore be inappropriate. In this study from northern Sweden, we investigated the associations between collective social capital and self-rated health for men and women separately, to understand if health effects of collective social capital are gendered. Two measures of collective social capital were used: one conventional measure (aggregated measures of trust, participation and voting) and one specific place-related (neighbourhood) measure. The results show a positive association between collective social capital and self-rated health for women but not for men. Regardless of the measure used, women who live in very high social capital neighbourhoods are more likely to rate their health as good-fair, compared to women who live in very low social capital neighbourhoods. The health effects of collective social capital might thus be gendered in favour for women. However, a more equal involvement of men and women in the domestic sphere would potentially benefit men in this matter. When controlling for socioeconomic, sociodemographic and social capital attributes at the individual level, the relationship between women's health and collective social capital remained statistically significant when using the neighbourhood-related measure but not when using the conventional measure. Our results support the view that a neighbourhood-related measure provides a clearer picture of the health effects of collective social capital, at least for women.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 73, no 2, 264-273 p.
Keyword [en]
Northern Sweden, collective social capital, gender, self-rated health
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-47251DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.05.013PubMedID: 21689877OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-47251DiVA: diva2:448919
Available from: 2011-10-18 Created: 2011-09-19 Last updated: 2017-05-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Social capital, health and community action: implications for health promotion
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social capital, health and community action: implications for health promotion
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background; The overwhelming increase in studies about social capital and health occurring since 1995 indicates a renewed interest in the social determinants of health and a call for a more explicit use of theory in public health and epidemiology. The links between social capital and health are still not clear and the meanings of different forms of individual and collective social capital and their implications for health promotion needs further exploration. The overall aims of this thesis are to explore the relationship between social capital and health and to contribute to the theoretical framework of the role of social capital for health and health promotion.

Methods; Data from a social capital survey were used to investigate the associations between individual social capital and self-rated health for men and women and different educational groups. Survey data were also analyzed to determine the association between collective social capital and self-rated health for men and women. A qualitative case study in a small community with observed high levels of civic engagement formed the basis for exploring the role of social capital for community action. Data from the same study were utilized for a grounded theory situational analysis of the social mechanisms leading to social capital mobilization.

Main findings; Access to individual social capital increases the odds for good self-rated health equally for men and women and different educational groups. However, the likelihood of having access to social capital differs between groups. The results indicate a positive association between collective social capital and self-rated health for women but not for men. Results from the qualitative case study illustrate how social capital in local communities can facilitate collective actions for public good but may also increase social inequality. Mobilizing social capital in local communities requires identification of community issues that call for action, a fighting spirit from trusted local leaders, “know-how” from creative entrepreneurs, and broad legitimacy and support in the community.

Conclusions; This thesis supports the idea that individual social capital is health-enhancing and that strengthening individual social capital can be considered one important health promotion strategy. Collective social capital may have a positive effect on self-rated health for women but not for men and therefore mobilizing collective social capital might be more health-enhancing for women. Collective social capital may have indirect positive effects on health for all by facilitating the ability of communities to solve collective health problems. However, mobilizing social capital in local communities requires an awareness of the risk for increased social inequality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå university, 2010. 105 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1355
Keyword
social capital, self-rated health, health promotion, community action
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Social Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-34198 (URN)978-91-7459-021-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-06-12, Betula, Norrlands Universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2010-05-24 Created: 2010-05-20 Last updated: 2015-04-29Bibliographically approved

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Eriksson, MalinNg, NawiWeinehall, LarsEmmelin, Maria

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