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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Investigating the temporal relationship between individual-level social capital and health in fragile families

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Kim Nichols Dauner, Neil A. Wilmot, Jennifer F. Schultz
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that there are no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

KND, NAW and JFS conceived and designed the study. NAW acquired and analyzed the data. KND and NAW interpreted the data. KND wrote the initial draft of the manuscript. KND, NAW and JFS revised the manuscript, read, and approved the final manuscript.



The potential for social capital to influence health outcomes has received significant attention, yet few studies have assessed the temporal ordering between the two. Even less attention has been paid to more vulnerable populations, such as low-income women with children. Our objective was to explore how different dimensions of social capital impact future health status among this population.


This study uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being (FFCWB) Study, which has followed a cohort of children and their families born in large U.S. cities between 1998 and 2000 to mostly minority, unmarried parents who tend to be at greater risk for falling into poverty. Four separate measures of social capital were constructed, which include measures of social support and trust, social participation, perceptions of neighborhood social cohesion, and perceptions of neighborhood social control. The temporal effect of social capital on self-reported health (SRH) is investigated using logistic regression and we hypothesize that higher levels of social capital are associated with higher levels of self-rated health.


After controlling for socioeconomic and demographic factors related to social capital and self-rated health, social support and trust, perceptions of neighborhood social cohesion and control at an earlier point in time were positively associated with higher levels of health four-years later. Social participation was not related to increased health. The empirical results appear robust.


Higher levels of social capital are predictive of improved health over a four-year time frame. These results suggest that policy initiatives supporting increasing the social capital available and accessible by low-income, urban, minority women are viable for improving health. Such policies may have the potential to reduce socioeconomic health disparities.
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