Types of non-kin networks and their association with survival in late adulthood: A latent-class approach

L. Ellwardt, M.J. Aartsen, T.G. van Tilburg

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: Integration into social networks is an important determinant of health and survival in late adulthood. We first identify different types of non-kin networks among older adults and second, investigate the association of these types with survival rates. Method: Official register information on mortality is combined with data from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA). The sample includes 2,440 Dutch respondents aged 54-85 at baseline in 1992 and six follow-ups covering a time span of 20 years. Using latent class analysis, respondents are classified into distinct types of non-kin networks, based on differences in number and variation of non-kin relations, social support received from non-kin, and contact frequency with non-kin. Next, membership in network types is related to mortality in a Cox proportional hazard regression model. Results: There are four latent types of non-kin networks that vary in network size and support. These types differ in their associations with mortality, independent of sociodemographic and health confounders. Older adults integrated into networks high in both number and variation of supportive non-kin contacts have higher chances of survival than older adults embedded in networks low in either amount or variation of support or both. Discussion: A combination of structural and functional network characteristics should be taken into account when developing intervention programs aiming at increasing social integration outside the family network.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)694-705
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology. Series B : Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number4
Early online date6 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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