Social Capital and Migrants’ Quality of Life: a Systematic Narrative Review


We aimed at contributing to the theoretical understanding of the association between quality of life and social capital. Different from other reviews, our review focused on exploring existing empirical research to provide a consolidated overview of the evidence on this association among migrant populations. This paper presents a systematic review of scientific literature on the association between quality of life and social capital among migrant populations. Considering the heterogeneity of the study group (migrants) and the complexity surrounding the measurement of quality of life and social capital, we used an integrative approach to synthesise results from both qualitative and quantitative studies. We adopted PRISMA 2009 (a flow diagram) for paper selection following specified criteria. The results were then categorised based on the direction of the association, i.e. positive association, no association and negative association, and were presented in a narrative form. A total of 53 studies were identified, five of which met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed in this paper. Social capital measured by social participation, social network, trust and reciprocity showed a positive relationship with quality of life five of the eight times the association was tested and no significant association the other three times. While our findings support the general conclusion that social capital is a significant predictor of quality of life among migrant populations, they further project the variations in this relationship across different measures of social capital and other domains of quality of life among migrant groups.

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I would like to express my gratitude to my supervisor, Prof. Monika Bullinger, for her ever-present guidance and mentorship, patience and understanding. I appreciate my wife, Elma, and my son Elias for their energising love and encouragements throughout this process.

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Correspondence to Adekunle Adedeji.

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There was no ethical approval necessary for the current review. However, the author adopted the PRISMA 2009 flow diagram to ensure a transparent and clear review process.

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• Social capital as a single construct cannot and should not be assumed as a universal predictor of migrants’ quality of life.

• A population-based breakdown of social capital is essential for the understanding and determination of social capital measures that promote quality of life for specified migrant groups.

• Social participation was the single measure of social capital that reflected constant effects on quality of life across the study.

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Adedeji, A. Social Capital and Migrants’ Quality of Life: a Systematic Narrative Review. Int. Migration & Integration 22, 87–101 (2021).

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  • Migrants
  • Social capital
  • Quality of life
  • Social network