Social capital as protection against the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Erik Snel*, Godfried Engbersen, Jan de Boom, Marianne van Bochove

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The corona pandemic has a huge impact on the mental wellbeing of the Dutch population. Based on a large-scale panel survey (N = 22,696) on the social impact of COVID-19, this article firstly examines which social groups are most susceptible to the mental health consequences of the pandemic. Secondly, we examine whether social capital provides protection against this impact. We find that the mental health impact of COVID-19 is considerable and that it increased over the course of 2020. Women, young people, respondents with low incomes and/or poor self-perceived health, experience relatively more fear and stress due to the pandemic. We do not find a difference between respondents with or without a migration background. Social capital (received support, trust in people and in institutions) has the expected effect: the more support and trust, the less fear and stress. There is a mediation effect. Older people, respondents with high incomes and/or good health experience less fear and stress, partly because they have more social capital. This is different for females. They would experience even more fear and stress, compared to men, were it not for the fact that they have more social capital. Hence we conclude that social capital indeed provides some protection against the negative mental health consequences of COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Article number728541
JournalFrontiers in Sociology
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), Project No. 10430032010034.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Snel, Engbersen, de Boom and van Bochove.


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