Who you know, where you live: social capital, neighbourhood and health

Soc Sci Med. 2005 Jun;60(12):2799-818. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.11.013. Epub 2004 Dec 25.


This article examines the degree to which relationships between social capital and health are embedded in local geographical contexts and influenced by demographic factors, socio-economic status, health behaviours and coping skills. Using data from a telephone survey of a random sample of adults (N=1504 respondents, response rate=60%), the article determines if relationships between involvement in voluntary associations and various measures of individual health are associated with neighbourhood of residence in the mid-sized city of Hamilton, Canada. Associational involvement and overweight status (assessed by body-mass score) were weakly but significantly related after controlling for the other variables; involvement had relationships with self-rated health and emotional distress before but not after controlling for socio-economic status, health behaviours and coping skills. Relationships between neighbourhood of residence and two health outcomes, self-rated health and overweight status, were statistically significant before and after controlling for the other characteristics of respondents; neighbourhood of residence was not a significant predictor of number of chronic conditions and emotional distress in multivariate models. The neighbourhood and associational involvement relationships with health were not dependent upon one another, suggesting that neighbourhood of residence did not help to explain the positive health effects of this particular measure of social capital.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Health
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Self Disclosure
  • Social Environment*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Urban Population
  • Volunteers