Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Social capital and self-reported general and mental health in nine Former Soviet Union countries

  • Yevgeniy Goryakin (a1), Marc Suhrcke (a1), Lorenzo Rocco (a2), Bayard Roberts (a3) and Martin McKee (a3)...

Social capital has been proposed as a potentially important contributor to health, yet most of the existing research tends to ignore the challenge of assessing causality in this relationship. We deal with this issue by employing various instrumental variable estimation techniques. We apply the analysis to a set of nine former Soviet countries, using a unique multi-country household survey specifically designed for this region. Our results confirm that there appears to be a causal association running from several dimensions of individual social capital to general and mental health. Individual trust appears to be more strongly related to general health, while social isolation- to mental health. In addition, social support and trust seem to be more important determinants of health than the social capital dimensions that facilitate solidarity and collective action. Our findings are remarkably robust to a range of different specifications, including the use of instrumental variables. Certain interaction effects are also found: for instance, untrusting people who live in communities with higher aggregate level of trust are even less likely to experience good health than untrusting people living in the reference communities.

Corresponding author
*Correspondence to: Yevgeniy Goryakin, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK. Email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

A. M. Almedom (2005), ‘Social capital and mental health: an interdisciplinary review of primary evidence’, Social Science & Medicine, 61(5): 943964.

F. Borgonovi (2010), ‘A life-cycle approach to the analysis of the relationship between social capital and health in Britain’, Social Science & Medicine, 71(11): 19271934.

T. T. Brown , R. M. Scheffler , S. Seo M. Reed (2006), ‘The empirical relationship between community social capital and the demand for cigarettes’, Health Economics, 15(11): 11591172.

J. S. Coleman (1988), ‘Social capital in the creation of human capital’, American Journal of Sociology, 94: 95120.

B. d'Hombres , L. Rocco , M. Suhrcke , C. Haerpfer M. McKee (2011), ‘The influence of social capital on health in eight former Soviet countries: why does it differ?’, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 65(1): 4450.

M. J. De Silva , K. McKenzie , T. Harpham S. R. A. Huttly (2005), ‘Social capital and mental illness: a systematic review’, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 59(8): 619627.

S. Folland (2007), ‘Does “community social capital” contribute to population health?’, Social Science & Medicine, 64(11): 23422354.

G. N. Giordano M. Lindstrom (2011), ‘Social capital and change in psychological health over time’, Social Science & Medicine, 72(8): 12191227.

N. N. Habibov E. N. Afandi (2011), ‘Self-rated health and social capital in transitional countries: multilevel analysis of comparative surveys in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia’, Social Science & Medicine, 72(7): 11931204.

S. Henderson H. Whiteford (2003), ‘Social capital and mental health’, The Lancet, 362(9383): 505506.

T. Iversen (2008), ‘An exploratory study of associations between social capital and self-assessed health in Norway’, Health Economics, Policy and Law, 3(4): 349364.

I. Kawachi , B. P. Kennedy R. Glass (1999), ‘Social capital and self-rated health: a contextual analysis’, American Journal of Public Health, 89(8): 11871192.

D. Kim , C. F. Baum , M. Ganz , S. V. Subramanian I. Kawachi (2011), ‘The contextual effects of social capital on health: a cross-national instrumental variable analysis’, Social Science & Medicine, 73: 16891697.

S. Y. D. Lee , W. L. Chen B. J. Weiner (2004), ‘Communities and hospitals: social capital, community accountability, and service provision in US community hospitals’, Health Services Research, 39(5): 14871508.

K. McKenzie , R. Whitley S. Weich (2002), ‘Social capital and mental health’, The British Journal of Psychiatry, 181(4): 280283.

D. L. Miller , R. Scheffler , S. Lam , R. Rosenberg A. Rupp (2006), ‘Social capital and health in Indonesia’, World Development, 34(6): 10841098.

C. U. Mitchell M. LaGory (2002), ‘Social capital and mental distress in an impoverished community’, City & Community, 1(2): 199222.

W. Poortinga (2006), ‘Social relations or social capital? Individual and community health effects of bonding social capital’, Social Science & Medicine, 63(1): 255270.

T. Powell-Jackson , S. Basu , D. Balabanova , M. McKee D. Stuckler (2011), ‘Democracy and growth in divided societies: a health-inequality trap?’, Social Science & Medicine, 73(1): 3341.

B. Roberts , P. Abbott M. McKee (2010), ‘Levels and determinants of psychological distress in eight countries of the former Soviet Union’, Journal of Public Mental Health, 9(3): 1726.

Y. Rojas P. Carlson (2006), ‘The stratification of social capital and its consequences for self-rated health in Taganrog, Russia’, Social Science & Medicine, 62(11): 27322741.

L. Ronconi , T. T. Brown R. M. Scheffler (2010), ‘Social capital and self-rated health in Argentina’, Health Economics 21(2): 201208.

R. Rose (2000), ‘How much does social capital add to individual health?: a survey study of Russians’, Social Science & Medicine, 51(9): 14211435.

R. M. Scheffler T. T. Brown (2008), ‘Social capital, economics, and health: new evidence’, Health Economics, Policy and Law, 3(4): 321331.

R. M. Scheffler , T. T. Brown J. K. Rice (2007), ‘The role of social capital in reducing non-specific psychological distress: the importance of controlling for omitted variable bias’, Social Science & Medicine, 65(4): 842854.

R. M. Scheffler , T. T. Brown , L. Syme , I. Kawachi , I. Tolstykh C. Iribarren (2008), ‘Community-level social capital and recurrence of acute coronary syndrome’, Social Science & Medicine, 66(7): 16031613.

J. W. Snelgrove , H. Pikhart M. Stafford (2009), ‘A multilevel analysis of social capital and self-rated health: evidence from the British Household Panel Survey’, Social Science & Medicine, 68(11): 19932001.

S. V. Subramanian , D. J. Kim I. Kawachi (2002), ‘Social trust and self-rated health in US communities: a multilevel analysis’, Journal of Urban Health, 79: 2134.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Health Economics, Policy and Law
  • ISSN: 1744-1331
  • EISSN: 1744-134X
  • URL: /core/journals/health-economics-policy-and-law
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 28 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 192 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.