Responding to adversity: Quasi-experimental evidence of dynamic social capital and its relation to mental health
Presenter: Joanna Maselko, Temple University
Background: In much of the literature on social capital and health, social capital is assumed to be exogenously determined. While increasing social capital is explicit in many community interventions, the dynamic nature of social capital is rarely acknowledged or incorporated into the research on social capital and health. A key reason for this omission is the cross-sectional nature of most studies in this area which makes it impossible to disentangle these processes or make a causal argument between social capital and health. The objectives of this study are to examine whether an acute, negative, health event can alter household levels of social capital, and to estimate the relation between social capital and psychological distress caused by the negative health event.
Methods: Analyses are conducted in the context of a quasi-experimental study on the consequences of experiencing a random health event (health shock). The study employs exogenous injuries in bus accidents together with a matching procedure to simulate a random exposure to physical health shock. The sample was drawn from bus travelers in Karnataka, India. 84 injured passengers were identified from bus accident compensation records and interviewed one year post-accident along with 336 unexposed individuals enrolled from the same accident bus routes, matched on age-group, gender and village/neighborhood. Social capital was assessed through the core subset of the World Bank’s Social Capital Integrated Questionnaire (SOCAP-IQ) covering three domains: (1) groups and networks, (2) trust and solidarity, and (3) collective action and cooperation. The Kessler-10 scale assessed psychological distress. This quasi-experimental study design with the use of bus accident injuries enables us to estimate causal effects of the health shock on social capital and psychological distress one year after the shock.
Results: Exposure to the health shock increased social capital levels through higher rates of belonging to, and actively participating in, diverse community groups. Structural and cognitive social capital domains were associated with lower distress among the unexposed, but with higher distress among those who experienced the health shock.
Conclusion: These findings have implications for the conceptualization and measurement of social capital as a dynamic process and may help explain prior, inconclusive, findings on social capital and mental health.
Authors: Joanna Maselko, Manoj Mohanan, Chiro Kawachi
Room: No.3 Hall