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The aim of the paper is to critically review the notion of social capital and review
empirical literature on the association between social capital and health across countries.
The methodology used for the review includes a systematic search on electronic databases
for peer-reviewed published literature. We categorize studies according to level of
analysis (single and multilevel) and examine whether studies reveal a significant
health impact of individual and area level social capital. We compare the study conclusions
according to the country's degrees of economic egalitarianism. Regardless of study
design, our findings indicate that a positive association (fixed effect) exists between
social capital and better health irrespective of countries degree of egalitarianism.
However, we find that the between-area variance (random effect) in health tends to
be lower in more egalitarian countries than in less egalitarian countries. Our tentative
conclusion is that an association between social capital and health at the individual
level is robust with respect to the degree of egalitarianism within a country. Area
level or contextual social capital may be less salient in egalitarian countries in
explaining health differences across places.
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the original work is properly cited.