Social Network Type and Subjective Well Being in a National Sample of Older Americans

Howard Litwin, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Sharon Shiovitz-Ezra, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The study considers the social networks of older Americans and the associations between network types and well-being indicators: loneliness, anxiety and happiness. A sub-sample of persons aged 65 and older from the first wave of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project was employed (N=1,462). We applied K-means cluster analysis to derive network types using seven criterion variables. In the multivariate stage, the well being outcomes were regressed on the network type construct and on background and health characteristics by means of logistic regression. Five network types were derived: "diverse," "friend," "congregant," "family" and "restricted." Network type was found to be associated with each of the well-being indicators after adjusting for demographic and health confounders. Respondents embedded in network types characterized by greater social capital tended to exhibit better well-being in terms of less loneliness, less anxiety and greater happiness.

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Presented in Session 59: Aging and Well-Being: Social, Economic, and Psychological Dimensions