Social capital has been found to be protective of adolescents’ well-being against effects of low socioeconomic status (SES). However, this protective role of social capital has been less explored in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This study hence aims to disentangle this complex relationship while exploring the potential for social capital to be a protective health asset for especially, poor Ghanaian adolescents. Multistage stratified cluster cross-sectional survey data of adolescents (13-18yrs), (N =2,068) was employed in logistic regression and bootstrapping mediation analyses. In the regression analyses: high SES significantly predicted high life satisfaction (LS) but could not predict high happiness. High level of social capital, including high family sense of belonging (FSB), school sense of belonging (SSB), family autonomy support (FAS) and low family control (FC), significantly predicted both high LS and high happiness. In the mediation analyses: FSB, FAS, and FC were strong mediators of the SES-happiness relationship but weak mediators of the SES-LS relationship. SSB was neither a mediator in the SES-LS relationship nor in the SES-happiness relationship. These results support the protective role of social capital for LMICs’ adolescents’ wellbeing against the effects of SES. Also, social capital is more important to LMICs’ adolescents’ well-being than SES, and high SES does not necessarily promise high happiness. Moreover, this study shows that the role of the family and school contexts are crucial for promoting adolescents’ well-being, although the role of the family is superior to other social contexts. Policymakers and social intervention providers targeting especially poor adolescents should, therefore, acknowledge the role of adolescents’ social capital and social environments in empowering them to overcome well-being and socioeconomic inequalities. Also, public health policies targeting social determinants of health should adopt an integrated approach together with families and school authorities.
|Date of Award
|11 Sept 2019
|Stefan KÜHNER (Supervisor) & Roman DAVID (Co-supervisor)