Social Capital and the Paradox of Poor but Healthy Groups in the United States

Singer, Elizabeth; McElroy, Roisin; Muennig, Peter A.

Increased income strongly correlates with improved health and lower mortality risk. Yet in spite of having a lower mean and median income, both Hispanics and the foreign-born living within the U.S. have higher longevity compared with native-born, non-Hispanics. We explored the role of structural social capital in conferring protection against poor health outcomes among Hispanics and the foreign-born in the US. We used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III 1988–1994 linked to prospective mortality follow up to examine the relationship between five measures of structural social capital and: (1) intermediate health outcomes (blood pressure, plasma fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, and total cholesterol) and (2) a distal outcome (all cause mortality). The foreign-born and Hispanics generally had lower measures of structural social capital relative to native-born non-Hispanics. Additionally, while structural social capital was protective against poor health or mortality among native-born persons, the association disappeared for Hispanics and the foreign-born.

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Also Published In

Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

More About This Work

Academic Units
Health Policy and Management
Published Here
November 11, 2016