Does Maternal Social Capital Have a Health Payoff? Evidence from Jimma Zone, Ethiopia
The relationship between social capital and health has been the subject of research in developed countries. However, empirical evidence from developing countries is scarce. This study examines the association between different dimensions of social capital and maternal health in Jimma Zone of Ethiopia. We utilized a cross sectional data gathered from a random sample of 422 mothers in four districts of the zone. We utilized two-stage regression procedure. We have also controlled for other confounding factors and heterogeneity of the study areas. We find that an increase in an overall score of a mother’s social capital would increase her probability of enjoying better health condition by about 0.61. However, we found mixed effects of different sub-dimensions of social capital. Increases in scores of sub-dimensions of structural social capital like social cohesion and networks are associated with 0.39 and 0.19 decreases in probability of enjoying better health status. Nevertheless, increases in scores of dimensions of cognitive social capital like general trust, institutional trust and sense of security would increase probability of enjoying better health status by 81%, 64% and 65% respectively. Therefore, people with higher levels of social capital – especially in terms of social interaction and all forms of cognitive social capital– engage in healthier behaviors and feel healthier. Since the other forms of capital such as physical and human capital are scarce in countries like Ethiopia, health policies that aim to promote maternal health should promote favorable social capital, which is abundantly available in these countries.