Introduction. The concept of social cohesion has invoked debate due to the vagueness of its definition and the limitations of current measurements. This paper attempts to examine the concept of social cohesion, develop measurements, and investigate the relationship between social cohesion and individual health. Methods. This study used a multilevel study design. The individual-level samples from 29 high-income countries were obtained from the 2000 World Value Survey (WVS) and the 2002 European Value Survey. National-level social cohesion statistics were obtained from Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development datasets, World Development Indicators, and Asian Development Bank key indicators for the year 2000, and from aggregating responses from the WVS. In total 47,923 individuals were included in this study. The factor analysis was applied to identify dimensions of social cohesion, which were used as entities in the cluster analysis to generate a regime typology of social cohesion. Then, multilevel regression models were applied to assess the influences of social cohesion on an individual's self-rated health. Results and discussion. Factor analysis identified five dimensions of social cohesion: social equality, social inclusion, social development, social capital, and social diversity. Then, the cluster analysis revealed five regimes of social cohesion. A multi-level analysis showed that respondents in countries with higher social inclusion, social capital, and social diversity were more likely to report good health above and beyond individual-level characteristics. Conclusions: This study is an innovative effort to incorporate different aspects of social cohesion. This study suggests that social cohesion was associated with individual self-rated after controlling individual characteristics. To achieve further advancement in population health, developed countries should consider policies that would foster a society with a high level of social inclusion, social capital, and social diversity. Future research could focus on identifying possible pathways by which social cohesion influences various health outcomes.
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