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date: 23 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Social capital matters for health, but issues of causal directionality and underlying mechanisms are not well understood. It is widely known that receiving social support is good for health, although few studies have investigated the impact of showing caring, altruistic behaviors on health of the provider. Further, as the family is a core component of society, altruistic behaviors toward children may be a unique context for evaluating the impact of such caring on the mental health of parents. This chapter provides a brief overview of prior research on social capital, altruism, and health. It then describes a series of studies conducted with the Midlife in the United States data set, including longitudinal and twin analyses, to examine the impact of altruistic behaviors on various mental health outcomes. The impact of altruistic behaviors toward children on the mental health of parents and grandparents is also considered. The chapter concludes with suggested directions for future research.

Keywords: health, altruistic behavior, children, mental health, parents, social capital, altruism, MIDUS, grandparents

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