Social network connectedness, trust, and social participation all contribute to health. Some scholars have grouped these various social factors under the term ‘social capital.’
There are various accounts of why these forms of social capital might be beneﬁcial to health. Bonds of trust may create opportunities for reciprocal exchange and produce good mental well-being by giving people a sense of safety in one’s social environment. Social network connectedness may operate through a wide variety of pathways, including access to a greater number and range of individuals who can offer support (e.g. instrumental help or emotional support). Social participation connects individuals through shared interests, potentially creating denser and more supportive networks. Furthermore, some organizations, such as religious or volunteer organizations, can provide people with a shared sense of meaning and purpose in life that may be good for their health.
It is not clear what aspects of social capital are most consequential for health in the Greater Toronto Area. This paper will analyze dimensions of social capital, and their association with health in the GTA, using new data collected in three regions of the metropolitan area. The paper will analyze social relationships to investigate which aspects of social life are most likely to produce positive returns on health for GTA residents.