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16. Social Capital, Social Cohesion and Health: Is Country-Level Trust Associated with Self-Assessed Health in Europe?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on social trust as an attribute of a society rather than as an individual characteristic. Kawachi and Berkman called this the 'social cohesion' approach to social capital, in contrast to the 'social support' approach, which focuses on individual-level social capital. Social scientists as Durkheim studied how characteristics of the social fabric in which individuals live are related to health outcomes. Two relatively recent papers form the reference points for this chapter. The first is the 1999 American Journal of Public Health paper titled 'Social capital and self-rated health. The second is Poortinga's 2006 Social Science and Medicine paper titled 'Social capital: An individual or collective resource for health?' Poortinga analysed data from the first wave of the European Social Survey (ESS) and concluded that in the European countries studied, 'aggregate social trust was not related to people's subjective health after controlling for compositional differences in socio-demographics'.

Keywords: European Social Survey (ESS); Poortinga; social capital; social cohesion



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