Neighborhood Social Capital and Population Health: Exploring Community Resources and Access

Recently, the concept of community social capital – the extent and quality of community social ties – is receiving a great deal of interest from population health researchers and policymakers. This interest stems from efforts to understand relationships between the social and economic conditions of communities and the health and well-being of the people who live in these communities. Research on social capital to date has been focused primarily on the extent of social ties and interpersonal trust in communities. This limited focus has overlooked crucial elements that make community social ties useful for maintaining or improving population health: the various socioeconomic, political, and psychosocial resources that are possessed by members of social networks and how residents access (or are restricted from accessing) these network-based resources.

Dr. Richard Carpiano is determining how specific resources based in neighbourhood social ties, and access to these resources, matter for adult health and well-being. He will analyze one of the best available community health datasets for investigating social capital and neighborhood socioeconomic conditions: the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A.FANS). This project has two major benefits. It will extend population health planners’ understanding of community social capital by showing what aspects of neighbourhood social ties matter for health and well-being and how social conditions of local areas have health promoting and health damaging consequences. More broadly, it will help extend population health research on neighbourhoods and local communities by exploring the different ways that social context matters for adult health and well-being.