Civic participation and self-rated health: a cross-national multi-level analysis using the world value survey

J Prev Med Public Health. 2015 Jan;48(1):18-27. doi: 10.3961/jpmph.14.031. Epub 2015 Jan 27.


Objectives: Civic participation, that which directly influences important decisions in our personal lives, is considered necessary for developing a society. We hypothesized that civic participation might be related to self-rated health status.

Methods: We constructed a multi-level analysis using data from the World Value Survey (44 countries, n=50 859).

Results: People who participated in voting and voluntary social activities tended to report better subjective health than those who did not vote or participate in social activities, after controlling for socio-demographic factors at the individual level. A negative association with unconventional political activity and subjective health was found, but this effect disappeared in a subset analysis of only the 18 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. Moreover, social participation and unconventional political participation had a statistically significant contextual association with subjective health status, but this relationship was not consistent throughout the analysis. In the analysis of the 44 countries, social participation was of borderline significance, while in the subset analysis of the OECD countries unconventional political participation was a stronger determinant of subjective health. The democratic index was a significant factor in determining self-rated health in both analyses, while public health expenditure was a significant factor in only the subset analysis.

Conclusions: Despite the uncertainty of its mechanism, civic participation might be a significant determinant of the health status of a country.

Keywords: Multilevel analysis; Participation; Self-rated health; World Value Survey.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Politics
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult