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The connection between social cohesion and health: A multi-level analysis in Germany

On December 10 Mandi Larsen (PhD, Lecturer, Jacobs University Bremen, the Coordinator of the Methods Center for the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS)) took part in the "Culture matters" research seminar with the report "The connection between social cohesion and health: A multi-level analysis in Germany".

Social cohesion has attracted a good deal of attention from policy makers and researchers alike, warranting investigation into its impact on individuals. Previous studies have found associations of varying strengths at the aggregated level between an overall measure of social cohesion and overall subjective health (Larsen & Boehnke, 2016; Arant, Dragolov, & Boehnke, 2018; Arant, Larsen, & Boehnke, 2016). The proposed study built upon this research by examining whether social cohesion at the regional level in Germany is related to indicators of health at the individual level. In particular, the proposed study expanded upon previous research in three important ways: (1) By taking a multi-level approach to disentangle the nested variability of individuals within regions; (2) by including a wider variety of health indicators; and (3) by using a time-lagged approach to take a closer look at the temporal order of the relationship. To do so, regional measures of social cohesion (N = 79) from the study "Social Cohesion in Germany 2017" (Arant, Dragolov, & Boehnke, 2018) linked to individual measures of health (e.g., subjective assessment of health; index of physical health; index of mental health) from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP, 2019). It was predicted that regions with higher levels of social cohesion at Time 1 have better individual and physical and mental health at Time 2. Potential implications of this research were discussed.