Archives: Social capital


Veenstra 2002 - "Social capital and health (plus wealth, income inequality, and regional health governance)"

"Social capital and health (plus wealth, income inequality and regional health governance)"
Social Science and Medicine
March 2002; v54, n6; pp 849-868
On the Web
Relevance: Medium-high

Describes a study of 30 health districts in Saskatchewan, comparing population health with social capital, income inequality, wealth, and governance. Social capital meant associational and civic participation. Two findings stand out:

  • The author found no evidence of a relationship between social capital and good governance in the health districts.
  • Low social capital was correlated to high mortality; high income inequality was also correlated to high mortality. The author writes, "the two may be co-mingled somehow when it comes to population health, although they were not significantly related to one another."

Veenstra's findings are promising because his use of social capital--associational and civic participation--is the same kind that may be affected by sprawl. And while the effects of social capital on mortality are "co-mingled" with income inequality, there is a relationship.


Berkman 1995 - The Role of Social Relations in Health Promotion

Berkman, Lisa F.
"The Role of Social Relations in Health Promotion"
Psychosomatic Medicine - Special Issue: Superhighways for Disease
May/June 1995; v.57, n.3; pp.245-254
On the Web
Relevance: low/medium

Here's the nut of the article, from the abstract: "There is now a substantial body of evidence that indicates that the extent to which social relationships are strong and supportive is related to the health of individuals who live within such social contexts. A review of population-based research on mortality risk over the last 20 years indicates that people who are isolated are at increased mortality risk from a number of causes." According to Berkman, social isolation, "seemed to make people more vulnerable to a broad range of diseases and disabilities..." (This is in marked contrast to the standard medical etiological approach that specific causes for specific diseases.)

More notes...


Semenza 2003 - "The Intersection of Urban Planning, Art, and Public Health: The Sunnyside Piazza"

Semenza, Jan C
"The Intersection of Urban Planning, Art, and Public Health: The Sunnyside Piazza"
American Journal of Public Health
September 2003, v.93, n9; pp1439-1441
On the Web
Relevance: low

In 2001 residents of the Sunnyside neighborhood in Portland, OR transformed a central intersection into the Sunnyside Piazza, a public gathering place. A small survey and observations indicate that residents of Sunnyside have higher satisfaction with their neighborhood, better sense of community, and better health than residents of adjacent neighborhoods.

More notes...


Leyden 2003 - "Social Capital and the Built Environment: The Importance of Walkable Neighborhoods"

Leyden, Kevin M.
“Social Capital and the Built Environment: The Importance of Walkable Neighborhoods” American Journal of Public Health
September 2003; v.93, n.9; pp. 1546-1551.
On the web
Relevance: high

Leyden investigated the relationship between neighborhood design and residents' social capital using a household survey in Galway, Ireland.  People who lived in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods had higher levels of social capital, and were more likely to know their neighbors, participate politically, trust others, and be socially engaged, than those who lived in car-oriented suburbs.

More notes...


Freeman 2001 - "The Effects of Sprawl on Neighborhood Social Ties: An Explanatory Analysis"

Freeman, Lance
“The Effects of Sprawl on Neighborhood Social Ties: An Explanatory Analysis.”
Journal of the American Planning Association.
Winter 2001; v.67, n.1; pp69-77
Relevance: medium

To test whether low-density sprawl weakens neighborhood social bonds, Freeman compared survey data on neighborhood social ties with the density and demographic characteristics of the census blockgroups in which the respondents lived.

After controlling for poverty and other factors, he concluded that residential density is not significantly related to the formation of neighborhood social ties; however, such ties are affected by how much neighborhood residents rely on their cars.

More notes...