Social network changes among older Europeans: the role of gender

Ella Schwartz, Howard Litwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


This study examined changes in the social networks of older Europeans. It utilizes the framework of the socioemotional selectivity theory and the convoy model to explore the social networks’ changes over time, as well as the turnover of specific social network members. Furthermore, the study analyzed gender as a predictor of these transformations. The inquiry focused on older adults aged 65+ who participated in the fourth and sixth waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (n = 13,938). The findings reveal a general trend of network expansion over time, with addition of new members and a higher proportion of family ties. These trends mask considerable individual variability in change trajectories, however. A series of OLS and Poisson regressions revealed that women were more likely to report network growth via addition of new social network members, and lower family involvement. These findings underscore the dynamic nature of older Europeans’ interpersonal milieu. They also underscore the role of gender in social network transformations and show that the dynamics of older Europeans’ personal networks differ for men and women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-367
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender
  • Health
  • Longitudinal
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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