Living arrangements of older adults in the Netherlands and Italy: Coresidence values and behaviour and their consequences for loneliness

J. de Jong-Gierveld, T.G. van Tilburg

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Abstract

Value studies indicate that the process of individualization in Europe started in Sweden and Norway, and continued via France and the Netherlands; the southern European countries lag behind, and are still characterized by more traditional family orientations. Starting from this point of view, this paper investigates the effects of differences between the Netherlands and Italy in the field of living arrangements of older adults with and without partners. The consequences of living alone and of coresidence with adult children have been further investigated, using loneliness as the dependent variable. The size and support functions of the network of social relationships, socio-economic resources, health, sex and age are also taken into account. Data come from face-to-face surveys among a random sample of older adults (55- to 89-year-old women and men) in the Netherlands (n = 4,494) and in Italy (n = 1,570), using the same research design and questionnaire. The data show country-specific differences in household types of older adults: the proportion living alone is much higher among older people without partners in the Netherlands; the proportion coresiding with their adult children is higher in Italy than in the Netherlands. Controlled for age, health, sex, size and support of the network, and for differences in socio-economic resources, household composition is still the most important determinant of loneliness. Living without a partner in the same household as one's adult children yields country-specific correlations that correspond with differences in value orientations: less loneliness in Italy, more loneliness in the Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1999

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