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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Social Capital’s Influence on the Likelihood of Mexican Immigrants Having Type 2 Diabetes or Being Obese in Los Angeles County


Most social capital research in the United States has tended to address issues concerning a middle class white population and little has addressed specific health outcomes. Even though it is frequently presented positively, social capital might have a negative relationship for more socially and economically vulnerable populations like Mexican immigrants. For example, social capital is negatively related to Mexican women’s wages, while positively related for non-Latino white women. It is clear that social capital does not guarantee positive outcomes. The currency of social capital is found in the relationships that people have, as the resources embedded in the community remain dormant until they are activated by individuals who pass along information through social interactions. Often overlooked is that negative information and resources can be transferred as well as positive. This paper examines two health outcomes--diabetes and obesity--to explore how social capital is related to an individual’s health, controlling for the influence that might be experienced by a vulnerable lower socioeconomic group like Mexican immigrants.

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