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The Relationship Between Social Capital and Depressive Symptoms Among the Elderly in China: The Mediating Role of Life Satisfaction

Authors Sun J, Xiao T, Lyu S, Zhao R

Received 26 January 2020

Accepted for publication 6 March 2020

Published 18 March 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 205—213

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/RMHP.S247355

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Marco Carotenuto


Jian Sun,1 Tong Xiao,2 Shoujun Lyu,1,3 Rui Zhao4

1School of International and Public Affairs, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200030, People’s Republic of China; 2School of Project Management and Real Estate, Henan University of Economics and Law, Zhengzhou, Henan 450046, People’s Republic of China; 3China Institute for Urban Governance, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200030, People’s Republic of China; 4Affiliated Hospital of Hebei University, Baoding, Hebei 071000, People’s Republic of China

Correspondence: Shoujun Lyu
School of International and Public Affairs, China Institute for Urban Governance, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 1954, Huashan Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai 200030, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86 159 2108 3352
Email sjlv@sjtu.edu.cn

Background and Aim: Depression has become a serious health and social issue in recent years in China. This study aims to explore the relationship between social capital and depressive symptoms among the elderly in China, with a particular focus on the mediating role of life satisfaction.
Methods: The data of this study were sourced from the 2016 wave of China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), involving 1243 older adults aged 60 and above. A multiple linear regression model was used to explore the impact of social capital on depressive symptoms. Moreover, the add-on PROCESS macro for SPSS was employed to measure the mediating effect of life satisfaction on the relationship between social capital and depressive symptoms.
Results: The regression results suggest that CES-D score was associated with trust (coefficient = − 0.1013, p < 0.01). In addition, the protective role of trust was significantly stronger for older adults aged 70– 79, women, the poorest 1/3, and the elderly who live in rural areas. Moreover, the mediation analysis results suggest that the effect of trust on depressive symptoms was fully mediated by life satisfaction.
Conclusion: This study reveals that social capital has a positive effect on depressive symptoms among the elderly, and the positive health effect shows significant age, gender, income, and location inequalities. Furthermore, this study also provides new evidence indicating that life satisfaction fully mediates the relationship between social capital and depressive symptoms. Improving social capital could be a promising way for China to promote healthy aging in the future.

Keywords: social capital, depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, elderly, China


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