The role of community social capital in the relationship between socioeconomic status and adolescent life satisfaction

Thomas Buijs, Lea Maes, Ferdinand Salonna, Joris Van Damme, Anne Hublet, Vladimir Kebza, Caroline Costongs, Candace Currie, Bart De Clercq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. The concept of social capital has been extensively used to explain the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and adolescent health and well-being. Much less is known about the specific mechanism through which social capital impacts the relationship. This paper investigates whether an individual’s perception of community social capital moderates or mediates the association between SES and life satisfaction.Methods. This study employs cross-sectional data from the 2009–2010 Czech Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children survey: a WHO Collaborative Cross-National Study (HBSC). A sample of 4425 adolescents from the 5th, 7th and 9th grade (94.5% school response rate, 87% student response) was used to perform multilevel analysis.Results. We found that pupils’ life satisfaction was positively related to both family affluence and perceived wealth. Moreover, we found the cognitive component of social capital to be positively associated with life satisfaction. Additionally, a significant interaction was found, such that the social gradient in life satisfaction was flattened when pupils reported high levels of perceived community social capital.Conclusions. The present findings suggest that community social capital acts as an unequal health resource for adolescents, but could potentially represent opportunities for public health policy to close the gap in socioeconomic disparities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal for Equity in Health
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2016


  • Health inequalities
  • Social capital
  • Life satisfaction
  • Youth
  • Czech Republic

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