Social Indicators Research

, Volume 147, Issue 1, pp 45–71 | Cite as

Is Linking Social Capital More Beneficial to the Health Promotion of the Poor? Evidence from China

  • Junfeng Jiang
  • Peigang WangEmail author
Original Research


As a more recently developed dimension of social capital, linking social capital seems to be less frequently discussed in the field of public health. Following the classic definition of linking social capital proposed by Szreter and Woolcock (Int J Epidemiol 33(4):650–667, 2004), this study defined linking social capital from the perspective of political capital. Political trust, political efficacy, political participation and membership in the Chinese Communist Party were used to measure linking social capital. Based on the data from Chinese General Social Survey of 2010 (N = 3209), this study used extended regression model to address potential endogenous problems of linking social capital and estimate its disparities in health return by the level of family income. Results show that only certain associations between linking social capital and psychological health were observed without endogenous problems addressed, and no significant family income disparity in these associations was observed. However, with endogenous problems addressed, it was observed that linking social capital was more beneficial to the health promotion, including both physical and psychological health, of the poor. These results are intrinsically in line with the classic definition of linking social capital, and they also indirectly support the applicability of this classic definition in unique Chinese settings.


Linking social capital Income inequality Health inequality Extended regression model 



The funding was provided by Wuhan University Population and Health Young Academic Team (Grant No. Whu2016026).


  1. Aldrich, D. P., & Ono, Y. (2016). Local politicians as linking social capital: An empirical test of political behavior after Japan’s 3/11 disasters. Natural Hazards,84(3), 1637–1659.Google Scholar
  2. Barker, J., & Thomson, L. (2015). Helpful relationships with service users: Linking social capital. Australian Social Work,68(1), 130–145.Google Scholar
  3. Beck, U. (1986). Risk: Towards a new modernity. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  4. Bian, Y. (1997). Bringing strong ties back in: Indirect ties, network bridges, and job searches in China. American Sociological Review,62(3), 366–385.Google Scholar
  5. Blakely, T. A., Lochner, K., & Kawachi, I. (2001). Metropolitan area income inequality and self-rated health. Social Science and Medicine,54, 65–77.Google Scholar
  6. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. New York: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cai, Y. (2017). Bonding, bridging, and linking: Photovoice for resilience through social capital. Natural Hazards,88(2), 1169–1195.Google Scholar
  8. Chen, F. (2009). Stronger marketization, weaker participation? A study of pathway to civil society. Sociological Studies, 24(3), 89–111.Google Scholar
  9. Chen, G. (2010). Market or non-market? An empirical analysis of the main causes of income inequalities in China today. Sociological Studies, 25(6), 86–115.Google Scholar
  10. Chen, H., & Meng, T. (2015). Bonding, bridging, and linking social capital and self-rated health among Chinese adults: Use of the anchoring vignettes technique. PLoS ONE,10(11), e0142300.Google Scholar
  11. Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human-capital. American Journal of Sociology,94, 95–120.Google Scholar
  12. Engbers, T. A., Thompson, M. F., & Slaper, T. F. (2017). Theory and measurement in social capital research. Social Indicators Research,132(2), 537–558.Google Scholar
  13. Ferlander, S. (2007). The importance of different forms of social capital for health. Acta Sociologica,50(2), 115–128.Google Scholar
  14. Glanville, J. L., & Story, W. T. (2018). Social capital and self-rated health: Clarifying the role of trust. Social Science Research,71, 98–108.Google Scholar
  15. He, Z. (2015). Impact of human capital, political capital, social capital on income inequality. Journal of Hohai University (Philosophy and Social Sciences),17(4), 42–47.Google Scholar
  16. Hu, Z., Liu, Z., & Gong, Z. (2011). Estimation of the Gini coefficient in China: 1985–2008. China Economic Quarterly,10(4), 1423–1436.Google Scholar
  17. Ichida, Y., Hirai, H., Kondo, K., Kawachi, I., Takeda, T., & Endo, H. (2013). Does social participation improve self-rated health in the older population? A quasi-experimental intervention study. Social Science and Medicine,94, 83–90.Google Scholar
  18. Kawachi, I., Kennedy, B. P., & Glass, R. (1999). Social capital and self-rated health: A contextual analysis. American Journal of Public Health,89(8), 1187–1193.Google Scholar
  19. Kawachi, I., Takao, S., & Subramanian, S. V. (2013). Global perspectives on social capital and health. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  20. Kim, D., Subramanian, S. V., & Kawachi, I. (2006). Bonding versus bridging social capital and their associations with self rated health: a multilevel analysis of 40 US communities. Epidemiology & Community Health,60(2), 116–122.Google Scholar
  21. Lin, N. (2001). Social capital: A theory of social structure and action. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Lipsky, M. (1980). Street-level bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the individual in public service. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  23. Liu, G. G., Xue, X., Yu, C., & Wang, Y. (2016). How does social capital matter to the health status of older adults? Evidence from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey. Economics and Human Biology,22, 177–189.Google Scholar
  24. Marmot, M. (2002). The influence of income on health: Views of an epidemiologist. Health Affairs,21(2), 31–46.Google Scholar
  25. Meijer, M., & Syssner, J. (2017). Getting ahead in depopulating areas—How linking social capital is used for informal planning practices in Sweden and The Netherlands. Journal of Rural Studies,55, 59–70.Google Scholar
  26. Meng, T., & Chen, H. (2014). A multilevel analysis of social capital and self-rated health: Evidence from China. Health & Place,27, 38–44.Google Scholar
  27. Moore, S., & Kawachi, I. (2017). Twenty years of social capital and health research: A glossary. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health,71(5), 513–517.Google Scholar
  28. Morgan, S. L. (2002). Should sociologists use instrumental variables? Cornell University. Working paper.Google Scholar
  29. Murayama, H., Wakui, T., Arami, R., Sugawara, I., & Yoshie, S. (2012). Contextual effect of different components of social capital on health in a suburban city of the greater Tokyo area: A multilevel analysis. Social Science and Medicine,75(12), 2472–2480.Google Scholar
  30. Ng, R. M. (2000). The influence of Confucianism on Chinese conceptions of power, authority, and the rule of law. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  31. Norstrand, J. A., & Xu, Q. (2012). Social capital and health outcomes among older adults in China: The urban–rural dimension. The Gerontologist,52(3), 325–334.Google Scholar
  32. Nyqvist, F., Pape, B., Pellfolk, T., Forsman, A. K., & Wahlbeck, K. (2014). Structural and cognitive aspects of social capital and all-cause mortality: A meta-analysis of cohort studies. Social Indicators Research,116(2), 545–566.Google Scholar
  33. Oshio, T. (2016). The association between individual-level social capital and health: cross-sectional, prospective cohort and fixed-effects models. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health,70(1), 25–30.Google Scholar
  34. Poortinga, W. (2006). Social relations or social capital? Individual and community health effects of bonding social capital. Social Science and Medicine,63(1), 255–270.Google Scholar
  35. Poortinga, W. (2012). Community resilience and health: The role of bonding, bridging, and linking aspects of social capital. Health & Place,18(2), 286–295.Google Scholar
  36. Putnam, R. D. (1995). Bowling alone: America’s decline in social capital. Journal of Democracy,6, 65–78.Google Scholar
  37. Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon Schuster.Google Scholar
  38. Qi, Y. (2014). Reliability and validity of self-rated general health. Chinese Journal of Sociology,34(6), 196–215.Google Scholar
  39. Ross, C. E., & Mirowsky, J. (2006). Sex differences in the effect of education on depression: Resource multiplication or resource substitution? Social Science and Medicine,63(5), 1400–1413.Google Scholar
  40. Rubin, O. (2016). The political dimension of “linking social capital”: Current analytical practices and the case for recalibration. Theory and Society,45(5), 429–449.Google Scholar
  41. Schultz, J., O’Brien, M. A., & Tadesse, B. (2008). Social capital and self-rated health: Results from the US 2006 social capital survey of one community. Social Science and Medicine,67(4), 606–617.Google Scholar
  42. StataCorp. (2017). Stata extended regression models reference manual: Release 15.Google Scholar
  43. Sun, X. (2011). Village governance and kinship in south China: A functionalism analysis. Sociological Studies, 26(1), 133–166.Google Scholar
  44. Sundquist, J., Johansson, S.-E., Yang, M., & Sundquist, K. (2006). Low linking social capital as a predictor of coronary heart disease in Sweden: A cohort study of 2.8 million people. Social Science and Medicine,62(4), 954–963.Google Scholar
  45. Sundquist, K., Hamano, T., Li, X., Kawakami, N., Shiwaku, K., & Sundquist, J. (2014). Linking social capital and mortality in the elderly: A Swedish national cohort study. Experimental Gerontology,55(1), 29–36.Google Scholar
  46. Sundquist, K., & Yang, M. (2007). Linking social capital and self-rated health: A multilevel analysis of 11175 men and women in Sweden. Health & Place,13(2), 324–334.Google Scholar
  47. Szreter, S. (2002). The state of social capital: Bringing back in power, politics, and history. Theory and Society,31(5), 573–621.Google Scholar
  48. Szreter, S., & Woolcock, M. (2004). Health by association? Social capital, social theory and the political economy of public health. International Journal of Epidemiology,33(4), 650–667.Google Scholar
  49. Vincens, N., Emmelin, M., & Stafström, M. (2018). Social capital, income inequality and the social gradient in self-rated health in Latin America: A fixed effects analysis. Social Science and Medicine,196, 115–122.Google Scholar
  50. Woolcock, M. (1998). Social capital and economic development: Towards a theoretical synthesis and policy framework. Theory and Society,27(2), 151–208.Google Scholar
  51. Woolcock, M. (2010). The rise and routinization of social capital, 1988–2008. Annual Review of Political Science,13, 469–487.Google Scholar
  52. Woolcock, M., & Narayan, D. (2000). Social capital: Implications for development theory, research, and policy. The World Bank Research Observer,15(2), 225–249.Google Scholar
  53. Xiao, T. (2006). Who is the village head? A preliminary analysis of social and political capital of village cadres. Management World, 22(9), 64–70.Google Scholar
  54. Yang, G. (2007). Puritanism and the formation of American political culture. (Doctor), China University of Political Science and Law, Beijiang.Google Scholar
  55. Younsi, M., & Chakroun, M. (2017). Does social capital determine health? Empirical evidence from MENA countries. Social Science Journal,54(2), 238–247.Google Scholar
  56. Zarychta, A. (2015). Community trust and household health: A spatially-based approach with evidence from rural Honduras. Social Science and Medicine,146, 85–94.Google Scholar
  57. Zhai, X. (2005). Face, favor and reproduction of power. Beijing: Peking University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Zhang, Y., & Jiang, J. (2019). Social capital and health in China: Evidence from the Chinese General Social Survey 2010. Social Indicators Research,142(1), 411–430.Google Scholar
  59. Zhao, Q., & Jin, J. (2010). Research on the public’s behavior selection model of “social mobility-political participation”. Journal of Lanzhou Jiaotong University,29(2), 17–21.Google Scholar
  60. Zhou, G., Fan, G., & Shen, G. (2014). The income disparity, the social capital and health: A case study based on China Family Panel Studies. Management World, 30(7), 12–21.Google Scholar
  61. Zhou, Y. (2012). Is social capital the capital of the poor? Empirical evidence from the income of rural residents in China. Management World, 28(7), 83–95.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health SciencesWuhan UniversityWuhan CityChina

Personalised recommendations