Social exclusion and social isolation in later life

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Social exclusion and social isolation refer to situations in which people are detached from society. A key distinction between the two terms is that social isolation is conceptualized and operationalized as an individual-level characteristic of being detached from social contacts, whereas social exclusion emphasizes broader and multifaceted or multidimensional societal conditions that produce poverty and inequality which reduce people’s abilities to participate in society. In this chapter, we discuss the origins, core components, and measurement of social exclusion and social isolation. We describe how the two concepts have been measured in empirical research, drawing examples from studies focused on older adults. Empirical studies document that older adults in general are relatively vulnerable to both, although disparities are documented on the basis of gender, socioeconomic status, and other individual-level characteristics. Both social exclusion and social isolation are associated with detrimental effects on health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Aging and the Social Sciences
EditorsK.F. Ferraro, D. Carr
Place of PublicationSan Diego
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780128159705
ISBN (Print)9780128159705
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2021

Publication series

NameHandbooks of Aging
PublisherAcademic Press

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Aging
  • Deprivation
  • Poverty
  • Social contacts
  • Social exclusion
  • Social isolation


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