Background: Social capital is a multilevel construct impacting health. Community level social capital, beyond the neighborhood, has received relatively less attention. Moreover, the measurement of community level social capital has tended to make use of aggregated individual data, rather than observable community characteristics. Methods: Herein, metropolitan religious adherence, as an observable community-level measure of social capital, is used. We match it to city of residence for 2826 women in the Fragile Families Childhood Wellbeing Study (a cohort study) who have lived continuously in that city during a nine-year period. Using ordered logistic regression with clustered standard errors to account for area effects, we look at the relationship between metropolitan religious adherence and self-rated health, while controlling for lagged individual, neighborhood, and socioeconomic factors, as well as individual level religious attendance. Results: Religious adherence at the community level is positive and statistically significant; every 1% increase in area religiosity corresponds to a 1.2% increase in the odds of good health. Conclusions: These findings shed light on a possible pathway by which social capital may improve health, perhaps acting as a stress buffer or through spillover effects of reciprocity generated by exposure to religion.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers R01HD36916, R01HD39135, and R01HD40421, as well as a consortium of private foundations. They supported the design and collection of study data. Data analysis and interpretation contained herein is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
- Community level
- Fragile families
- Social capital