RESEARCH ARTICLE


Social Capital, Gender and Educational Level Impact on Self-Rated Health



Malin Eriksson*, Lars Dahlgren, Urban Janlert, Lars Weinehall, Maria Emmelin
Epidemiology and Public Health Sciences, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umea University, SE-901 85 Umea, Sweden.


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Eriksson et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Epidemiology and Public Health Sciences, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umea University, SE-901 85 Umea, Sweden; Tel: +46 (0) 90 785 3346, +46 76 81 22 331; Fax: +46 (0) 90 13 8977; E-mails: malin.eriksson@socw.umu.se


Abstract

Objectives:

Social capital has been recognized as one important social determinant for health, but we still have limited knowledge about how it can be used to explain inequality in health. This study investigated the links between individual social capital and self-rated health by gender and educational level, and analyzed if access to social capital might explain the observed disparities in self-rated health between men and women and different educational groups.

Study design:

A cross-sectional survey in Northern Sweden.

Methods:

A social capital questionnaire was constructed and mailed to 15 000 randomly selected individuals. Different forms of structural and cognitive social capital were measured. Self-rated health was used as the outcome measure. Crude and adjusted OR and 95% CI were calculated for good selfrated health and access to each form of social capital. Multivariate regression was used to analyze how sociodemographic factors and access to social capital might influence differences in self-rated health by gender and educational level.

Results:

Access to almost each form of social capital significantly increased the odds for good self-rated health for all groups. A higher education significantly increased the odds for access to each form of social capital, and being a man significantly increased the odds for having access to some forms of social capital. The health advantage for higher educated and men partly decreased when controlling for access to social capital.

Conclusions:

Access to social capital can partly explain the observed health inequality between men and women and different educational groups. Strengthening social capital might be one way of tackling health inequality. It is important to consider the structural conditions that create unequal opportunities for different groups to access social capital.

Keywords: Social capital, gender, educational level, self-rated health, health inequality.