Social capital, anticipated ethnic discrimination and self-reported psychological health: a population-based study

Martin Lindström
Social Science & Medicine 2008, 66 (1): 1-13
This study investigates the association between anticipated ethnic discrimination and self-reported psychological health, taking generalized trust in other people into consideration. The 2004 Public Health Survey in Skåne, Sweden, is a cross-sectional postal questionnaire study including a total of 27,757 respondents aged 18-80 with a 59% response rate. Multivariate analyses of anticipated discrimination and self-reported psychological health were performed using logistic regressions in order to investigate the importance of possible confounders (age, country of origin, education and horizontal trust). Poor psychological health was reported by 13.0% of men and 18.9% of women, and 44.8% and 44.7%, respectively, reported that 50% or more of employers would discriminate according to race, colour of skin, religion, or cultural background. Respondents in younger age groups, born abroad, with high education, low trust and high levels of self-reported anticipated discrimination, had significantly higher levels of poor self-reported psychological health. There was a significant association between anticipated discrimination and low horizontal trust. After multiple adjustments for age, country of origin and education, the addition of trust in the model reduced the odds ratio of poor self-reported psychological health in the "most employers" category from 1.8 (1.4-2.1) to 1.5 (1.3-1.9) among men and from 2.2 (1.8-2.6) to 1.8 (1.5-2.2) among women. Generalized trust in other people may be a confounder of the association between anticipated discrimination and poor psychological health. Anticipated discrimination may have effects on the mental health of not only the affected minorities, but also on the mental health of the general population.

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