Age integration in later life social networks and self-perceptions of aging: examining their reciprocal associations

Ella Cohn-Schwartz, Markus H. Schafer, Liat Ayalon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Relying on the age segregation theory (limited contact between age groups), this study examined the temporal reciprocal associations between age integration—the inclusion of older and younger people in one’s personal network—and one's self-perceptions of aging (SPA). Data came from the 2014 and 2017 waves of the German Ageing Survey and focused on adults aged 60 and above (N = 5239). Age composition of the network was assessed as the number of kin and non-kin in the social network who are either more than 10 years older or more than 10 years younger than the respondent. A latent change score model assessed the bidirectional associations. The results showed that adults who had younger social network members, both kin and non-kin, had better SPA 3 years later. A positive SPA at baseline also predicted a higher number of younger non-kin and older non-kin relationships over time. These results stress the role of SPA in adults' social network as well as the role of age integration in shaping adults' SPA. Practitioners and policy makers should encourage connections between people of different ages and should strive to decrease the age segregation in society.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Age integration
  • Longitudinal
  • Self-ageism
  • Social networks

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