International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 60, Issue 8, pp 901–910 | Cite as

Does the association between different dimension of social capital and adolescent smoking vary by socioeconomic status? a pooled cross-national analysis

  • Timo-Kolja PförtnerEmail author
  • Bart De Clercq
  • Michela Lenzi
  • Alessio Vieno
  • Katharina Rathmann
  • Irene Moor
  • Anne Hublet
  • Michal Molcho
  • Anton E. Kunst
  • Matthias Richter
Original Article



To analyze how dimensions of social capital at the individual level are associated with adolescent smoking and whether associations differ by socioeconomic status.


Data were from the ‘Health Behaviour in School-aged Children’ study 2005/2006 including 6511 15-year-old adolescents from Flemish Belgium, Canada, Romania and England. Socioeconomic status was measured using the Family Affluence Scale (FAS). Social capital was indicated by friend-related social capital, participation in school and voluntary organizations, trust and reciprocity in family, neighborhood and school. We conducted pooled logistic regression models with interaction terms and tested for cross-national differences.


Almost all dimensions of social capital were associated with a lower likelihood of smoking, except for friend-related social capital and school participation. The association of family-related social capital with smoking was significantly stronger for low FAS adolescents, whereas the association of vertical trust and reciprocity in school with smoking was significantly stronger for high FAS adolescents.


Social capital may act both as a protective and a risk factor for adolescent smoking. Achieving higher levels of family-related social capital might reduce socioeconomic inequalities in adolescent smoking.


Smoking Socioeconomic inequalities Adolescence Social capital Health Behaviour in School-aged Children 



The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study is an international survey conducted in collaboration with the WHO Regional Office for Europe. The current International Coordinator of the study is Candace Currie, CAHRU, University of St Andrews, Scotland. The data bank manager is Oddrun Samdal, University of Bergen, Norway. The data collection in each country was funded at the national level. We are grateful for the financial support offered by the various government ministries, research foundations and other funding bodies in the participating countries and regions. This work on this paper is part of the project ‘Tackling socio-economic inequalities in smoking (SILNE)’, which is funded by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, under the FP7-Health-2011 program, with grant agreement number 278273.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 51 kb)


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timo-Kolja Pförtner
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Bart De Clercq
    • 2
  • Michela Lenzi
    • 3
  • Alessio Vieno
    • 3
  • Katharina Rathmann
    • 4
  • Irene Moor
    • 4
  • Anne Hublet
    • 2
  • Michal Molcho
    • 5
  • Anton E. Kunst
    • 6
  • Matthias Richter
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Medical Sociology, Health Services Research, and Rehabilitation Science (IMVR) of the University of Cologne (IMVR), Faculty of Human Sciences and Faculty of MedicineUniveristy of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.Department of Public HealthGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Developmental and Social PsychologyUniversity of PaduaPaduaItaly
  4. 4.Institute of Medical SociologyMartin Luther University Halle-WittenbergHalleGermany
  5. 5.Health Promotion Research Centre, School of Health SciencesNational University of Ireland GalwayGalwayIreland
  6. 6.Department of Public Health, AMCUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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