ABSTRACT / In this talk, I will give a general introduction into the mainstream of social capital research that uses social network methods to understand disparities in economic opportunities. Then, I will talk about a recent paper in which we investigate how social capital may help individuals maintain their mental health. Most empirical work based on small-scale surveys finds that bonding social capital and cohesive social networks are critical for mental well-being, while bridging social capital and diverse networks are considered less important. Here, we link data on antidepressant use of 277,344 small-town residents to a nation-wide online social network. The data enable us to examine how individuals' mental healthcare is related to the spatial characteristics of their social networks including their strong and weak ties. We find that, besides the cohesion of social networks around home, the diversity of connections to distant places is negatively correlated with the probability of antidepressant use. Spatial diversity of social networks is also associated with decreasing dosage in subsequent years. This relationship is independent from the local access to antidepressants and is more prevalent for young individuals. Structural features of spatial social networks are prospectively associated with depression treatment.
BIO / Balázs Lengyel is an economic geographer and works on topics at the intersection of economic geography, innovation studies, and network science. He aims to understand how social interaction facilitates economic and technological progress embedded in geographical space. He is the co-director of the ANETI Lab, an interdisciplinary group co-hosted by the Hungarian Research Network and Corvinus Institute for Advanced Studies focusing on agglomeration, networks, and innovation. He is an Associate Professor at the Corvinus University of Budapest, and is a board member of the Center for Collective Learning. Balázs was a visiting scholar at the MIT Human Mobility and Networks Lab in 2016; he completed his PhD in economics at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in 2010 and holds a master degree from the University of Szeged.