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Basic information

Manager: Mikael Rostila
Period: 2010-01-01 – 2012-12-31
Funded by: Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS)

Description of the project

My doctoral dissertation examined social capital in relation to health and health inequality. It also examined whether welfare features are of significance for levels of social capital. The studies were based on Swedish national survey data and registers, as well as cross-national European data. The findings suggested that well-developed welfare states generally seem to have a positive influence on social capital. The findings further showed that both individual and collective social capital are related to health. Moreover, social capital at the individual level was important in explaining health inequalities especially between groups based on country of birth in Sweden whereas collective social capital were important in explaining health inequalities between clusters of European countries, grouped into welfare regimes. Finally, the findings suggested that the principle of migrant homophily, that is, when migrants exclusively interact with other migrants, has negative consequences on migrants’ health in Sweden. However, only migrants included in homogenous and closed networks had poorer health, which supports the idea that social capital has negative health consequences when social networks are characterized by a high degree of network closure, lacking bridges to other networks.

The results suggested poorer health among immigrants when compared to native Swedes and that migrant homophily might account for such differentials. Homophily, however, has obvious similarities with ethnic residential segregation. Segregation and homophily are both terms that imply that persons with similar social characteristics associate with each other. Nevertheless, we have limited knowledge on whether migrants’ social environment might account for their health. In this post-doc project I will examine whether segregation in social networks and residential areas, might account for health differentials between natives and immigrant categories. The project includes guest research at Harvard School of Public Health and collaboration with researchers at Department of Sociology, Stockholm University.