Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Not belonging where others do: a cross-sectional analysis of multi-level social capital interactions on health and mental well-being in Wales


Background Social capital may be a social good in health terms, but it is not necessarily a universal good. Several studies have shown that while there is a positive association between ecological social capital and health in people with high individual-level social capital, this relationship is weaker or even reversed in those with low individual-level social capital. Such studies, however, have used relatively coarse levels of geography for quantifying ecological social capital. The present study looks at this relationship at a more fine-grained spatial scale.

Methods Data from the National Survey for Wales (n=27 828, weighted mean age=48.4) were linked to previously published small-area estimates (n=410) of ecological social capital for Wales. Mixed effects models were then used to assess whether the relationship between mental well-being and self-reported health on one hand, and ecological social capital (sense of belonging) on the other, was moderated by individual-level social capital.

Results The models found the same moderation of the relationship that has been demonstrated previously: Although ecological social capital is positively associated with health in respondents with high individual-level social capital, the relationship is negative in those with low individual-level social capital.

Conclusion This study replicates this association at a spatial scale orders of magnitude more fine-grained than had been shown previously. Ecological social capital is not an unambiguously positive factor for public health, and may be a risk factor for marginalised people.

  • Social capital
  • self-rated health
  • multilevel modelling
  • mental health
  • geography

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.