Social Capital, Black Social Mobility, and Health Disparities

Annu Rev Public Health. 2022 Apr 5:43:173-191. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-052020-112623. Epub 2022 Jan 6.


This review aims to delineate the role of structural racism in the formation and accumulation of social capital and to describe how social capital is leveraged and used differently between Black and White people as a response to the conditions created by structural racism. We draw on critical race theory in public health praxis and restorative justice concepts to reimagine a race-conscious social capital agenda. We document how American capitalism has injured Black people and Black communities' unique construction of forms of social capital to combat systemic oppression. The article proposes an agenda that includes communal restoration that recognizes forms of social capital appreciated and deployed by Black people in the United States that can advance health equity and eliminate health disparities. Developing a race-conscious social capital framing that is inclusive of and guided by Black community members and academics is critical to the implementation of solutions that achieve racial and health equity and socioeconomic mobility.

Keywords: racial disparities; social capital; social mobility; structural racism.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Humans
  • Racism*
  • Social Capital*
  • Social Mobility
  • United States
  • White People