Trustful societies, trustful individuals, and health

An analysis of self-rated health and social trust using the World Value Survey

Min Hua Jen*, Erik R. Sund, Ron Johnston, Kelvyn Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Citations (Scopus)


This study analyses the relationships between self-rated health and both individual and mean national social trust, focusing on a variant of Wilkinson's hypothesis that individuals will be less healthy the greater the lack of social cohesion in a country. It employs multilevel modelling on World Values Survey data across 69 countries with a total sample of 160,436 individuals. The results show that self-rated health are positively linked to social trust at both country and individual levels after controlling for individual socio-demographic and income variables plus individual social trust; increased trust is associated with better health. Moreover, this analysis of social trust gives some insight into distinctive results for the former Soviet Bloc countries, which have high reported levels of poor health, alongside the Scandinavian countries which have high levels of trust and better health situations. Our results support and extend the Wilkinson hypothesis that the level of trust, an indicator of social cohesion, is predictive of individuals' health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1022-1029
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Place
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


  • Multilevel modelling
  • Self-rated health
  • Social trust
  • World value survey

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