Trust me, you will be in better health

Health Policy. 2014 May;116(1):123-32. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2014.01.011. Epub 2014 Jan 23.


Along the pathway traced by few recent contribution that attempt to identify the causal effect of social capital on health, this paper analyzes whether individual social capital reduces the probability of experiencing 11 long-lasting and chronic diseases. The empirical problems related to reverse causation and unobserved heterogeneity are addressed by means of a procedure that exploits the within-individual variation between the timings of first occurrence of the 11 diseases considered. Estimates indicate that the probability of occurrence is on average 14-18 percent lower among individuals reporting to "trust most of the other people". This result is robust to two alternative specifications as well as the inclusion or omission of individual controls.

Keywords: Chronic disease; Health; Reverse causation; Social capital; Unobserved heterogeneity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Causality
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Capital*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Trust*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Young Adult