Educational gradients in older adults’ personal network size, diversity and social support: a widening gap between haves and have nots across birth cohorts?

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Societal change related to individualization has likely made individual resources more important for the maintenance of social ties. This raises the question whether the lower educated are more disadvantaged in later-born cohorts in personal network structure and function. Observations are from 4,886 individuals aged 55 and over from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA), which are followed over a time span of a maximum of 24 years between 1992 and 2016. Multi-level regression models are estimated to determine cohort differences. Network size is larger in later-born cohorts, and more so for the higher educated than for the lower educated. Network diversity increases across birth cohorts irrespective of educational level. Lower and higher educated women, and lower educated men give more instrumental support in later-born cohorts, whereas higher educated men do not show such a steep increase. More emotional and instrumental support is also received in later-born cohorts irrespective of educational level, but higher educated receive more emotional support in all birth cohorts. Thus, lower educated older adults are not necessarily worse off socially in later-born cohorts. Instead, they are even more likely to be an active giver of support. Also, most of the gains in personal networks of older adults in later-born cohorts are independent of educational level, suggesting that the social landscape for older adults today is much richer.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAgeing and Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

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