Skip to content

Journal Article

Structural social capital and mental health: a panel study


Publication date



The link between social relations and psychological wellbeing is well established in sociological and mental health studies. Since the beginning of the 2000s, this link has been garnering new attention and interest in economic and public health studies. Almost twenty years of empirical studies testing this relationship have established contrasting results for two main reasons. First, the majority of the studies are based on cross-sectional data, leaving out endogeneity and heterogeneity problems; second, mental health measurements are often discordant from each other. This study investigates the relationship between structural social capital and individual self-rated mental health using five waves of the British Household Panel Survey from 1991 to 1995 (unbalanced panel N = 44,684). We take into account the heterogeneity and endogeneity issues and implement fixed effects and lag-dependent variable estimations. Moreover, we used different methodologies to measure mental health as a robustness check. Our findings show the existence of a negative relationship between being both a member of and active in an organization and worse mental health. In addition, being active within an organization in the previous year has a negative effect on worse mental health in the following year.

Published in

Applied Economics

Volume and page numbers

52 , 2079 -2095





Psychology, Economics, Well Being, Social Capital, and Health


Research home

Research home


Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest