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Quality and quantity: The role of social interactions in self-reported individual health

Damiano Fiorillo () and Fabio Sabatini ()

Social Science & Medicine, 2011, vol. 73, issue 11, 1644-1652

Abstract: The public health literature on the detrimental effects of social isolation has shown that the quantity of social connections is positively correlated with individual health. Drawing on pooled cross-sectional data, we test this hypothesis on a representative sample of the Italian population. Our findings show that, in addition to the quantity of interactions, it is their quality – as measured by subjective satisfaction derived from relationships with friends – that works as the best predictor of self-reported health. The frequency of meetings with friends is significantly and positively correlated with good health in all regressions. However, when we add our measure of the quality of relationships to the probit equations, the statistical significance of “quantitative” measures is scaled down. Satisfaction with relationships with friends exhibits a positive and highly significant coefficient. Results of the multivariate probit analysis point out the potential role of unobservable variables suggesting the existence of endogeneity problems which require further investigation.

Keywords: Health; Well-being; Satisfaction; Social interactions; Social capital; Italy; Self-reported health (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:11:p:1644-1652