Journal of Geographical Systems

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 1–23 | Cite as

A multiple indicator, multiple cause method for representing social capital with an application to psychological distress

  • Peter CongdonEmail author
Original Article


This paper describes a structural equation methodology for obtaining social capital scores for survey subjects from multiple indicators of social support, neighbourhood and trust perceptions, and memberships of organizations. It adjusts for variation that is likely to occur in levels of social capital according to geographic context (e.g. level of area deprivation, geographic region, level of urbanity) and demographic group. Social capital is used as an explanatory factor for psychological distress using data from the 2006 Health Survey for England. A highly significant effect of social capital in reducing the chance of psychiatric caseness is obtained after controlling for other individual and geographic risk factors. Allowing for social capital has considerable effects on the impacts on psychiatric health of other risk factors. In particular, the impact of area deprivation category is much reduced. There is also evidence of significant differentiation in social capital between population categories and geographic contexts.


Social capital Structural equation Psychological distress Area deprivation Bayesian 

JEL Classification

C11 C30 I10 



The analysis in this paper is based on the Health Survey for England data held at the ESRC Data Archive. Neither the survey depositors nor the Data Archive bear any responsibility for the analysis presented in the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Center for StatisticsQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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