Effects of Social Capital on General Health Status

  •  Ayano Yamaguchi    


This paper discusses the concept of social capital as a potential factor in understanding the controversial relationship between income inequality and individual health status, arguing a positive, important role for social capital. Most of the health research literature focuses on individual health status and reveals that social capital increases individual health. However, the difficulty in measuring social capital, together with what may be the nearly impossible task of attributing causality, should relegate the concept to a more theoretical role in health research. Nonetheless, social capital receives academic attention as a potentially important factor in health research. This paper finds that the mixed results of empirical research on income inequality and health status remain a problem in the context of defining a stable relationship between socioeconomic status and health status. Clearly, further research is needed to elaborate on the income inequality and health relationship. In addition, focused, rigorous examination of social capital in a health context is needed before health researchers can comfortably introduce it as a concept of influence or significance.

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