Social Capital and Gambling: Evidence from Australia

  • Sefa Awaworyi ChurchillEmail author
  • Lisa Farrell
Original Paper


The prevalence of problem gambling in many countries necessitates research that examines factors influencing excessive and addictive consumption. We consider how social capital impacts gambling participation for a large representative sample of the Australian population. Specifically, we examine the association between social capital and gambling addiction using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey. We address the endogeneity of social capital by instrumenting for social capital using an urban/rural reversed measure of ethnic diversity. Our main findings suggest that higher levels of social capital are associated with lower gambling risks measured by the Problem Gambling Severity Index. This general finding is robust to alternative ways of measuring social capital and gambling, and alternative estimation approaches. We also find that the effect of social capital is stronger in the case of problem gamblers compared to gamblers in other risk categories.


Gambling PGSI Social capital Social cohesion 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Awaworyi Churchill declares that he has no conflict of interest. Farrell declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


  1. Ambrey, C., & Fleming, C. (2014). Public greenspace and life satisfaction in urban Australia. Urban Studies, 51(6), 1290–1321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Appau, S., Awaworyi Churchill, S., & Farrell, L. (2018). Social integration and subjective wellbeing. Applied Economics. Scholar
  3. Armstrong, A., & Carroll, M. (2017). Gambling activity in Australia: Findings from wave 15 of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.Google Scholar
  4. Awaworyi Churchill, S., & Farrell, L. (2018). The impact of gambling on depression: New evidence from England and Scotland. Economic Modelling, 68, 475–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Awaworyi Churchill, S., & Mishra, V. (2017). Trust, social networks and subjective wellbeing in China. Social Indicators Research, 132(1), 313–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Awaworyi Churchill, S., & Smyth, R. (2017). Ethnic diversity and poverty. World Development, 95, 285–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bell, R., & Boldero, J. (2011). Factors affecting youth gambling. Melbourne: Victorian Government, Office of Gaming and Racing.Google Scholar
  8. Breusch, T., & Pagan, A. (1979). A simple test for heteroscedasticity and random coefficient variation. Econometrica, 47(5), 1287–1294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Castrén, S., Basnet, S., Salonen, A. H., Pankakoski, M., Ronkainen, J.-E., Alho, H., et al. (2013). Factors associated with disordered gambling in Finland. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 8(1), 24.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark, W. A., & Lisowski, W. (2018). Wellbeing across individuals and places: How much does social capital matter? Journal of Population Research, 35(3), 217–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, S95–S120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cramm, J. M., Van Dijk, H. M., & Nieboer, A. P. (2012). The importance of neighborhood social cohesion and social capital for the well being of older adults in the community. The Gerontologist, 53(1), 142–152.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Delfabbro, P., & Thrupp, L. (2003). The social determinants of youth gambling in South Australian adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 26(3), 313–330.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Dincer, O. C. (2011). Ethnic diversity and trust. Contemporary Economic Policy, 29(2), 284–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dinesen, P. T., & Sønderskov, K. M. (2015). Ethnic diversity and social trust: Evidence from the micro-context. American Sociological Review, 80(3), 550–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Drukker, M., Buka, S. L., Kaplan, C., McKenzie, K., & Van Os, J. (2005). Social capital and young adolescents’ perceived health in different sociocultural settings. Social Science and Medicine, 61(1), 185–198.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Ferris, J. A., & Wynne, H. J. (2001). The Canadian problem gambling index. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.Google Scholar
  18. Fisher, S. (1993). The pull of the fruit machine: A sociological typology of young players. The Sociological Review, 41(3), 446–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gainsbury, S. M., Russell, A., Hing, N., Wood, R., Lubman, D. I., & Blaszczynski, A. (2014). The prevalence and determinants of problem gambling in Australia: Assessing the impact of interactive gambling and new technologies. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 28(3), 769–779.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Greenberg, J. H. (1956). The measurement of linguistic diversity. Language, 32(1), 109–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Griswold, M. T., & Nichols, M. W. (2006). Social capital and casino gambling in US communities. Social Indicators Research, 77(3), 369–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hewitt, B., Turrell, G., & Giskes, K. (2012). Marital loss, mental health and the role of perceived social support: Findings from six waves of an Australian population based panel study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 66(4), 308–314.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. Holtgraves, T. (2008). Evaluating the problem gambling severity index. Journal of Gambling Studies, 25(1), 105–120.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. Huxley, J., & Carroll, D. (1992). A survey of fruit machine gambling in adolescents. Journal of Gambling Studies, 8(2), 167–179.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Korman, L. M., Collins, J., Dutton, D., Dhayananthan, B., Littman-Sharp, N., & Skinner, W. (2008). Problem gambling and intimate partner violence. Journal of Gambling Studies, 24(1), 13–23.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Layton, A., & Worthington, A. (1999). The impact of socio-economic factors on gambling expenditure. International Journal of Social Economics, 26(1/2/3), 430–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Leigh, A. (2006). Trust, inequality and ethnic heterogeneity. Economic Record, 82(258), 268–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lewbel, A. (2012). Using heteroscedasticity to identify and estimate mismeasured and endogenous regressor models. Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, 30(1), 67–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McQuade, A., & Gill, P. (2012). The role of loneliness and self-control in predicting problem gambling behaviour. Gambling Research, 24(1), 18–30.Google Scholar
  30. Millimet, D. L., & Roy, J. (2016). Empirical tests of the pollution haven hypothesis when environmental regulation is endogenous. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 31(4), 652–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Milner, A., Krnjacki, L., Butterworth, P., & LaMontagne, A. D. (2016). The role of social support in protecting mental health when employed and unemployed: A longitudinal fixed-effects analysis using 12 annual waves of the HILDA cohort. Social Science and Medicine, 153, 20–26.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. Productivity Commission. (2010). Gambling, Report No. 50, Canberra.Google Scholar
  33. Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  34. Putnam, R. D. (2007). E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture. Scandinavian Political Studies, 30(2), 137–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Queensland Government Statistician’s Office. (2016). Australian gambling statistics (32nd ed.). Brisbane: Queensland Treasury.Google Scholar
  36. Raisamo, S. U., Mäkelä, P., Salonen, A. H., & Lintonen, T. P. (2014). The extent and distribution of gambling harm in Finland as assessed by the problem gambling severity index. The European Journal of Public Health, 25(4), 716–722.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Raylu, N., & Oei, T. P. S. (2002). Pathological gambling: A comprehensive review. Clinical Psychology Review, 22(7), 1009–1061.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. Reith, G., & Dobbie, F. (2011). Beginning gambling: The role of social networks and environment. Addiction Research & Theory, 19(6), 483–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stock, J. H., & Yogo, M. (2005). Testing for weak instruments in linear IV regression. In D. Andrews & J. Stock (Eds.), Identification and inference for econometric models: Essays in honor of Thomas Rothenberg (pp. 80–105). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sturgis, P., Brunton-Smith, I., Kuha, J., & Jackson, J. (2014). Ethnic diversity, segregation and the social cohesion of neighbourhoods in London. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(8), 1286–1309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sturgis, P., Brunton-Smith, I., Read, S., & Allum, N. (2011). Does ethnic diversity erode trust? Putnam’s ‘hunkering down’ thesis reconsidered. British Journal of Political Science, 41(01), 57–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Subramaniam, M., Wang, P., Soh, P., Vaingankar, J. A., Chong, S. A., Browning, C. J., et al. (2015). Prevalence and determinants of gambling disorder among older adults: A systematic review. Addictive Behaviors, 41, 199–209.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  43. Tan, A. K. G., Yen, S. T., Nayga, J., & Rodolfo, M. (2010). Socio-demographic determinants of gambling participation and expenditures: Evidence from Malaysia. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 34(3), 316–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Thomas, A. C., Allen, F. C., & Phillips, J. (2009). Electronic gaming machine gambling: Measuring motivation. Journal of Gambling Studies, 25(3), 343–355.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  45. Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. (2015). Risk factors for problem gambling: Environmental, geographic, social, cultural, demographic, socio-economic, family and household. Melbourne: Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.Google Scholar
  46. Volberg, R. A. (1996). Prevalence studies of problem gambling in the United States. Journal of Gambling Studies, 12, 111–128.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Watson, N., & Wooden, M. P. (2012). The HILDA survey: A case study in the design and development of a successful household panel survey. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 3(3), 369–381.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Economics, Finance and MarketingRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations