A longitudinal examination of social capital as a predictor of depression

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Abstract

Depression is the world’s most common mental health disorder and its prevalence is higher among women and the poor. This article seeks to examine the effect that social capital has on mental health, in a longitudinal study. We used data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, which has followed a cohort of families born in large US cities to mostly minority, unmarried parents for over 15 years. Two measures of social capital are constructed, an index of social support and trust, and a measure of social participation. Data from four waves (totalling 8 years) of the study are analyzed in a panel logit model. After controlling for socioeconomic and demographic factors, the measure of social support and trust is found to be a significant predictor of depression, and remains so even after controlling for the effect of social participation. Our measure of social participation, based on attendance at religious services, does not appear to be a significant predictor of depression. Intervention and policy initiatives that increase social capital, particularly social support and trust, may be viable for improving depression among low-income urban, minority women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-428
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Economics Letters
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 12 2019

Keywords

  • Social capital
  • logistic regression
  • panel model
  • psychological health

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