Document Type

Capstone Project

Publication Date



Stevenson Center, Social Capital, McLean County, Health


Since political scientist, Robert Putnam, (1995) brought the concept of social capital into popular discourse, there has been a surge in debate over its definition, causes, and consequences in a range of social science disciplines. While social capital has been found to support self-rated overall health at the state level (Kawachi et al, 1999), there is still a dearth of data and research on localities in different regions of the country. This study analyzes survey data collected in the United Way of McLean County’s 2014 Community Assessment to better understand the dynamic between social capital and health in one Central Illinois County. Health is measured using three dependent variables: self-rated overall, physical, and mental health. Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) multivariate regression analysis found that among social capital indicators, which includes organizational participation and volunteering, only volunteering has a statistically significant, positive impact on self-rated overall health while participation in faith-based organizations, political, and common interest groups appear unrelated to self-rated overall health. Unexpectedly, participation in local organizations was associated with statistically significant declines in self-rated physical health. Neither volunteering nor organizational participation was significantly related to self-rated mental health in either direction.