Social capital, food insecurity, and health outcomes in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic

Y. Choi, H. H. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Aims: The purpose of this study was first, to investigate the harmful effects of food insufficiency on health outcomes – self-rated health (SRH) and self-assessed depressive symptoms – during the COVID-19 pandemic and, second, to test whether these effects fluctuated across the US in terms of state-level social capital. Methods: Data were drawn from the Census Household Pulse Survey (fielded between April 2020 and February 2021) consisting of community-dwelling American adults (N = 1.5M+). Social capital measures were taken from the ‘Social Capital Project’ sponsored by the US Congress. We estimated three-level mixed effects models to analyze multiple waves of repeated cross-sectional surveys. Results: Post-COVID-19 food insufficiency was significantly negatively associated with SRH and positively associated depression, adjusting for controls including food insufficiency prior to the onset of the pandemic. These relationships were also more pronounced in areas with higher aggregate social capital. Conclusions: The health burdens of the new coronavirus disease have fallen disproportionately on the economically marginalized, as measured by food insufficiency. Contrary to the conventional literature, living in a state with a greater stock of social capital worsened its health effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
JournalPerspectives in Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Royal Society for Public Health 2022.


  • health inequalities
  • inequalities
  • mental health
  • public health


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