Low linking social capital as a predictor of coronary heart disease in Sweden: a cohort study of 2.8 million people

Soc Sci Med. 2006 Feb;62(4):954-63. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.06.049. Epub 2005 Aug 3.


This study investigated the association between the recently minted concept of linking social capital and incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD). A follow-up study of 1,358,932 men and 1,446,747 women in Sweden aged 45-74 years was conducted between 1 January 1998 and 31 December 1999. Neighbourhood linking social capital was conceptualised as proportions of individuals voting in local government elections at neighbourhood level. The neighbourhood- and individual-level factors were analysed within a multilevel framework. Linking social capital was associated with CHD in both men and women beyond individual-level factors: in neighbourhoods with low linking social capital the odds ratios were 1.19 (CI = 1.14-1.24) and 1.29 (CI = 1.21-1.38) for men and women, respectively, after adjustment for age, country of birth, education, marital status, and housing tenure. The significant between-neighbourhood variance (i.e. the random intercept) showed significant differences in CHD incidence between neighbourhoods. Even in a relatively egalitarian society, as exemplified by the Swedish Welfare State, individual health is affected by differences between neighbourhoods in linking social capital. The use of linking social capital represents a novel conceptual advance in research on the association between CHD, one of the major causes of death in Western countries, and the multidimensional aspects of social capital.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Community Participation
  • Coronary Disease / economics
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Housing / classification
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Psychology, Social*
  • Residence Characteristics / classification*
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Assessment
  • Social Class*
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology