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Social Capital and Health

The benefits of social capital on health and the power of social connection


Significant research has been done proving the benefits of social capital on health. This report highlights how strong the link is in Central Texas and concludes that across all groups, social capital leads to improved health.

The Issue:

Public health research has shown a strong link between social capital and health. Social capital is defined as “features of social organization, such as networks, norms, and social trust, that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit.” This report focuses on social risk factors and social capital to explore health disparities in Central Texas.

This report measures social capital across three domains and explores its relation to eight aspects of health for Central Texas residents. Key findings include:

  • There is a strong correlation between social capital and health outcomes
  • There are statistically significant effects of social capital across all health models
  • There is a direct relationship between income and health (lower income is related to worse health)
  • There are large disparities in social capital between groups reflecting historic inequities rooted in systemic racism

Partnership Attribution

The University of Texas At Austin RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service

This report was funded through a grant from St. David’s Foundation’s Evaluation and Strategic Learning department as part of the Austin Sustainability Indicators Project. It supports the Foundation in furthering its understanding of social connection as a key principle for advancing health equity.

Meet our Contributors


Jesse Simmons, MS

Senior Evaluation Officer


Patrick Bixler, PhD

Assistant Professor, RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service