Is the association between social capital and health robust across Nordic regions? Evidence from a cross-sectional study of older adults

Authors


Fredrica Nyqvist, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Seriegatan 2 C, 65320 Vasa, Finland. E-mail: fredrica.nyqvist@thl.fi

Abstract

Nyqvist F, Nygård M. Is the association between social capital and health robust across Nordic regions? Evidence from a cross-sectional study of older adults

The study examined the association between structural and cognitive social capital and self-rated health among 65- and 75-year-olds in Västerbotten in Sweden and Österbotten and Pohjanmaa in Finland. Data were retrieved from a cross-sectional postal questionnaire survey conducted in 2005 and was answered by 3,370 persons, yielding a total response rate of 69 per cent. The association between self-rated health and interpersonal trust and membership in organisations was tested by logistic regression analysis. The results showed that older adults in Västerbotten in Sweden experienced better self-rated health than in Finland. Furthermore, interpersonal trust and active membership in organisations were associated with self-rated health among 65- and 75-year olds even after having controlled for the influence of region. We therefore conclude that the association between social capital and self-rated health tends to be robust across contextually similar regions, but that further analyses are warranted in order to clarify the nature of this relationship.

Key Practitioner Message: •Health status can be indirectly strengthened through investments in social capital, such as group participation and active networks; •When working with older adults, more focus needs to be put on how to develop trustful relationships; •The Nordic welfare state, with its universal and subsidised social and health care services, has an indirect and positive effect on health among older adults.

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