Despite extensive research on the relationship between social capital and health, the specific pathways through which social capital is related to health have not been fully elucidated. Moreover, research has generally been cross-sectional, particularly in Canada, and hence not clearly attentive to the causal relationship between social capital and health. In this study we have examined the importance of multiple forms of individual social capital for the functional health status of adult Canadians, employing the Canadian National Population Health Survey (NPHS). We examine changes in health between 1996 and 2000, using individual level variables from 1996 as predictors. In our final model, the key aspect of social capital affecting changes in health status is being loved by someone. This is predicted by being married, frequency of family contacts, religious service attendance and being born in Canada. Insecurity about food also has a direct effect on changes in health status. The latter is affected by income, daily smoking and age. The results suggest that policies to support family stability and family unification, for example through immigration, and efforts to minimize the disruptions of divorce could contribute to the health of Canadians.
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