This study examined the combined influences of national levels of socioeconomic status (SES), social capital, and rights and freedoms on population level physical and mental health outcomes. Indicators of mental health were suicide rates, alcohol consumption, and tobacco use. Indicators of physical health included life expectancy, infant mortality rates, and prevalence of HIV. Using pathway analysis on international data from a selected sample of European, North American, South American, and South Caucasus countries, similar models for mental health and physical health were developed. In the first model, the positive effects of SES and social capital on physical health were completely mediated via rights and freedoms. In the second model, the positive effect of SES on mental health was completely mediated, while the impact of social capital was partially mediated through rights and freedoms. We named the models, the “rights and freedoms gradient of health” in recognition of this latter construct’s crucial role in determining both physical and mental health.
Keywords: physical health, mental health, health, rights, freedoms, gradient, social capital, socioeconomic status
Citation: Bezo B, Maggi S and Roberts WL (2012) The rights and freedoms gradient of health: evidence from a cross-national study. Front. Psychology 3:441. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00441
Received: 02 June 2012; Accepted: 03 October 2012;
Published online: 07 November 2012.
Edited by:Brad Sheese, Illinois Wesleyan University, USA
Reviewed by:Sebastian J. Lipina, Unidad de Neurobiología Aplicada (CEMIC-CONICET), Argentina
Copyright: © 2012 Bezo, Maggi and Roberts. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.
*Correspondence: Brent Bezo, Department of Psychology, Carleton University, B550 Loeb Building, Colonel By Drive 1125, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1S 5B6. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org