Abstract: In Vietnam there is growing concern about the potential social impact of rapid economic change. The extent and type of social connectedness within communities, or social capital, may be changing. Studies from other developing countries have demonstrated that social capital is often independently associated with various indicators of well-being, including such aspects of human capital as health and education.
Social capital can be thought of as the ‘value’ of social relationships, reflecting the quality and quantity of relationships in a given population, most commonly those within a community. Most research acknowledges that high levels of social capital can be associated with exclusion of outsiders, restrictions on individual freedoms and reinforcement of harmful norms.
This paper offers the first quantitative examination of maternal social capital and its effects upon child health in Vietnam. It shows that high levels of maternal social capital may positively affect child health by enabling mothers to access more services and more assets, such as jobs, money, and goods. It may also improve maternal physical and/or mental health. While previous research in developed and developing countries has demonstrated positive associations between adult social capital and adult indicators of well-being, the association between maternal social capital and child health has not been previously examined.
Keywords: social capital, child health, Vietnam, mental health, well-being