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Social networks amongst older people in Europe: a quantitative comparative analysis using the 2001 International Social PowerPoint Presentation
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  1. Social networks amongst older people in Europe: a quantitative comparative analysisusing the 2001 International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) Presentation to the European Sociological Association, Conference, Sept. 2007 Phil Haynes Reader in Social and Public Policy HSPRC, University of Brighton p.haynes@brighton.ac.uk With Professor Michael Hill, and Laura Banks This work is supported by UK ESRC research grant: RES-000-22-2114

  2. International Social Survey (ISSP) • 2001 ISSP focus on social networks • Our project uses a sub sample • aged >50 • 18 OECD countries, 13 in Europe

  3. European countries/regions

  4. Background • Importance of social networks to quality of life in older age (Auslander & Litwin,1990) • Social networks linked with social capital (Putnam 1995) • Some suggestion that stronger social network patterns are associated with better health (Zunzunegui, 2004; Blumstein, Guralnik & Walter-Ginzbury, 2004;) • Important differences within Europe, stronger family networks in southern Europe (Millar and Warman, 1996: Pickard, 2003)

  5. Research Questions • What is the relationship between family contact and other forms of social networking? • Are gender differences in the social networking of older people similar in all European countries? • Within the countries of Europe, is there any relationship between attitudes towards family based care and the social networking patterns, and social policy expenditure, in those countries?

  6. Social Networking (ISSP) • Participation in community organisations • Quantity of close friendships • Contacts with close family members other than immediate partners • Brothers and sisters • Adult children

  7. Community Participation • Seven ordinal scores from questionnaire • Measuring participation in; unions, politics, sport, religion, community, and other local groups • Strong single factor when combined using Principal Components Analysis (PCA) • Separate measures developed for work and non work based participation

  8. Community Participation

  9. Predictors of higher community participation (European sample) NB: Age is not a significant predictor

  10. Region - explaining membership of High Community Participation Score Group

  11. Community Participation and Gender • Across the European sample men have higher community participation scores than women (t=3.253 df=6946 p=0.001), but this varies between countries. • In a few countries, women’s average score is slightly higher than men’s, but this not substantive or statistically significant (GB, France, Finland and Spain) • Regional differences for women in West and East (next slide) • The only individual country sub sample that has a statistically significant difference between women and men’s scores is the Czech Republic, with a noticeable lower level of community participation for women (t= 2.963 df=458 p= 0.003).

  12. Odds ratios for being a member of higher community participation group, computed within regional sub samples

  13. Close Friends Score

  14. Close Friends Score and Gender • In Europe, women’s close friend scores are on average higher than men’s. But the difference is small and not statistically significant. • In general, within country differences, in mean scores between men and differences are also small and not statistically significant • In Norway, women’s mean scores are significantly higher than men’s (t = -4.401. df=586 p=0.000)

  15. Odds ratios for being a member of higher close friends group, computed within regional sub samples Being an older age does have some decreased effect on friendship

  16. Family Contact Scores

  17. Family Contact Score and Gender • Women’s family contact mean scores are higher than men in all countries • Except in Hungary and Denmark, (where the small opposite differences are not statistically significant).

  18. Predictors of Higher Family Contact Scores. European sample, ages 50 and over, with reference to Southern Europe as compared with residence in other regions

  19. Attitudinal, ordinal scale measures • Adult children have a duty to look after elderly parents • Q. provides some interesting country differences • It is right to develop friendships just to be of use to you • Q. about reciprocal caring relationships • doesn’t provide much evidence of country differences (but Spain and Poland are outliers) • The government should provide a decent standard of living for the old • Q. doesn’t provide much evidence of country differences, respondents tend to support the statement strongly in all countries (but USA and Japan have significantly lower scores than European countries)

  20. Association between family contact and attitudes to care

  21. Conclusion • Regional patterns are strong in Europe • Relationship with traditional higher public spending, N Eur • W Eur., mid table, group – policy developments to blend gov. policy outputs with social network outputs…’cash for care’ • Social class has an impact on community participation across Europe, and on friendships in Eastern Europe • No evidence that early retirement amongst all social class groups leads to increased community participation • Evidence of social divide: middle class, more participation • Gender differences – differences between north and south. • South = women reporting more family contact • North = women reporting more closer friendships