Individual-level social capital and self-rated health in Japan: An application of the Resource Generator

Tomoko Kobayashi, Ichiro Kawachi, Toshihide Iwase, Etsuji Suzuki, Soshi Takao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Despite accumulating evidence of associations between social capital and health in public health research, a criticism of the field has been that researchers have exclusively focused on concepts of social cohesion to the exclusion of individual-level approaches. In the present study, we evaluated the association between social capital measured by the Resource Generator (an individual-level assessment of access to social capital) and self-rated health among Japanese population in a cross-sectional study. A postal survey of 4000 randomly selected residents in Okayama City (western Japan) was conducted in February 2009. We divided the overall scores from the Resource Generator Japan scale into quartiles. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for self-rated health were calculated separately by sex. Individuals with the highest quartile of scores had significantly lower odds of poor health compared to the lowest group after covariate adjustment among both men and women (men; OR: 0.45, 95% CI: 0.24-0.86, women; OR: 0.44, 95% CI: 0.25-0.79, respectively) and there were also significant dose-response relationships. In the sub-domains of Resource Generator Japan scale, a differential pattern was observed by sex. Women showed a clear dose-response relationship with health across all four sub-scales (domestic resources, expert advice, personal skills, and problem solving resources). In contrast, only the domain of expert advice exhibited a strong association with men's health. Among both men and women individual-level social capital measured by the Resource Generator was related to reduced odds of poor health even after taking into account individual confounders. Although we cannot exclude reverse causation due to the cross-sectional design, our study adds to the accumulating evidence of the potential utility of the Resource Generator for evaluating the relationship between individual-level access to social capital and health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-37
Number of pages6
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • Japan
  • Network based social capital
  • Resource Generator
  • Self-rated health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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