Social capital and health (plus wealth, income inequality and regional health governance)

  • Veenstra G
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This article describes an empirical exploration of relationships among aspects of thirty health districts in Saskatchewan, Canada. These aspects include social capital, income inequality, wealth, governance by regional health authorities and population health, the primary dependent variable. The social capital index incorporated associational and civic participation, average and median household incomes served as proxies for wealth, the degree of skew in the distribution of household incomes assessed income inequality while the model for effective governance by District Health Boards (DHBs) focused on reflection of health needs, policy making and implementation, fiscal responsibility and the integration and co-ordination of services. I found no evidence of a relationship between social capital in health districts and the performance of DHBs. Among the determinants of health, wealth appeared unrelated to age-standardised mortality rates while income inequality was positively and social capital was negatively related to mortality. Income inequality was not as strongly related to age-standardised mortality after controlling for social capital, and vice versa, suggesting the two may be co-mingled somehow when it comes to population health, although they were not significantly related to one another. Of the predictors of social capital the distribution of age in districts appeared to be the most salient; of the predictors of age-standardised mortality rates the gender composition of a district was most salient. #

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  • Gerry Veenstra

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