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Social capital and collective efficacy in Hungary: cross sectional associations with middle aged female and male mortality rates


Objectives: Social capital, collective efficacy, and religious involvement have each been linked to population health. This study examined the relations between these measures and male/female mortality rates in Hungary.

Design: Cross sectional, ecological study.

Setting: 150 sub-regions of Hungary.

Participants and methods: 12 643 people were interviewed in 2002 (the “Hungarostudy 2002” survey). Social capital was measured by lack of social trust, reciprocity between citizens, and membership in civil organisations. Collective efficacy was measured by survey items from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. Religious involvement was measured by church attendance.

Main outcome measure: Gender specific all cause mortality rates for the middle aged population (45–64 years) in the 150 sub-regions of Hungary, provided by the Central Statistical Office (CSO).

Results: Social capital, collective efficacy, as well as religious involvement were each significantly associated with middle age mortality. After education, collective efficacy showed the strongest association with mortality in both men and women. Among men, socioeconomic status, collective efficacy, social distrust, competitive attitude, reciprocity, and membership of civic organisations explained 68.0% of the sub-regional variations in mortality rates. Among women the same variables explained only 29.3% of the variance in mortality rates. Religious involvement was protective among women.

Conclusion: Collective efficacy and social capital are significant predictors of mortality rates in both men and women across sub-regions of Hungary. Gender differences in the relative importance of social factors may help to explain the differential impact of economic transformation on mortality rates for men and women in Central-Eastern European countries.

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