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How much does social capital add to individual health? A survey study of Russians

by R Rose
Social science & medicine (1982) ()


Some Russians are healthier than others. To what extent does their health vary with involvement or exclusion from social capital networks? The first section reviews alternative theories: human capital as the primary determinant; social capital, whether generic, situation-specific or simply a new label for old measures of social integration; or a composite theory--both human and social capital are major determinants of health. The evidence to test hypotheses consists of individual-level data about self-assessed physical and emotional health from the special-purpose social capital questionnaire used in the 1998 New Russia Barometer survey, a nationwide representative sample of the adult Russian population. Multiple regression analysis shows that on their own human capital and social capital each account for a notable amount of variance in health. When both forms of capital are combined in a composite model, each retains major influence, demonstrating that social capital does make an independent contribution to health. Significant social capital influences include involvement or exclusion from formal and informal networks; friends to rely on when ill; control over one's own life; and trust. Significant human capital influences besides age include subjective social status, gender and income. Regression-based estimates of impact show that social capital increases physical and emotional health more than human capital; together they can easily raise an individual's self-reported health from just below average on a five-point scale to approaching good health.

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