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Neighbourhood social capital improves individual health quality of life in a national sample from Wales

Tampubolon, Gindo (2009): Neighbourhood social capital improves individual health quality of life in a national sample from Wales.

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Abstract

Neighbourhood social capital is often claimed to improve health but in Britain this claim finds little support. I examine the effects of neighbourhood social capital on the Welsh health quality of life in 2007 using instrumental variable estimator. By extending the influential Grossman health production model and borrowing from the Blume-Brock-Durlauf statistical mechanics of social interactions model, suitable instruments for identification are readily obtained. Instruments (neighbourhood ethnic diversity and residence length) were collected from separate survey. Neighbourhood social capital and deprivation measures were likewise independently gathered from measures of individual socioeconomic status and health (SF-36). In the national sample there are 13,557 respondents residing in 1,152 neighbourhoods. Neighbourhood deprivations invariably reduce individual health quality of life but neighbourhood social capital more than compensate for this. Because the instruments are strong enough to identify the effects, I show that friendly neighbourhood and friendly neighbours, sense of community in the neighbourhood, trust, ready exchange of information and goods, and sense of belonging improve residents' health. Public health practitioners have these measures as additional tools in their box when formulating policy to improve public health.

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