The association between social capital measures and self-reported health among Muslim majority nations

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Objectives: Much evidence suggests that social capital (e.g. networks, trust, organizational memberships) has a significant effect on self-reported health. Previous research, however, has focused primarily on Western countries. The current research seeks to remedy this problem by investigating the association between multiple social capital indicators and subjective health in a novel empirical setting.

Methods: The data come from the Comparative Values Survey of Islamic Countries (1999–2006) which consists of probabilistic samples from Muslim majority nations. Three-way multilevel analysis is used to examine the social determinants of health.

Results: Statistical results from hierarchical linear modeling shows that frequent contact with strong and intermediate ties (i.e. family members and friends, respectively) is significant, while interaction with weak ties (coworkers) has no association. General trust and trust in the central government are also significantly related to subjective health, as is trust in religious authority, albeit in an inverse way.

Conclusions: This study calls for a more contingent view of the relationship between social capital and self-reported health. Future research needs to take this into consideration in hypothesizing and testing the potential health benefits of social capital.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-757
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - 28 Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Swiss School of Public Health.


  • General trust
  • Institutional trust
  • Network ties
  • Self-reported health
  • Social capital


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