Social Indicators Research

, Volume 141, Issue 2, pp 669–684 | Cite as

Role of Social Relationship in Predicting Health in China



There is increasing acknowledgement of social relationship as an important determinant of health. However, most evidence comes from developed countries, and the question of whether social relationship can predict health in developing countries remains poorly understood. This paper empirically examined how social relationships influence health in China. Data was collected from the Chinese Household Income Project, contained around 5000 migrant households, 8000 rural households and 5000 urban households. Self-reported general health and psychological health which was assessed by General Health Questionnaire. Social relationship was positively associated with health and psychological health, although the indices varied in strength. Social support, social connectedness and trust operated differently in predicting health in the three populations. The findings supported that social relationship influences health through both a stress-buffering process (helping people to cope with stress) and a main-effect process (promoting positive psychological states or healthy behaviors irrespective of stress). Among all the measures, neighborhood relationship satisfaction as one variable to capture social connectedness and generalized trust showed a stable and sizable effect in predicting health across the three populations, suggesting that neighborhood ties and generalized trust are important supportive resources for Chinese.


Social relationship Health China Urban Rural and migrant workers 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USC-SJTU Institute of Cultural and Creative IndustryShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina

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