European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 81–98 | Cite as

Social exclusion of older persons: a scoping review and conceptual framework

  • Kieran Walsh
  • Thomas Scharf
  • Norah Keating


As a concept, social exclusion has considerable potential to explain and respond to disadvantage in later life. However, in the context of ageing populations, the construct remains ambiguous. A disjointed evidence-base, spread across disparate disciplines, compounds the challenge of developing a coherent understanding of exclusion in older age. This article addresses this research deficit by presenting the findings of a two-stage scoping review encompassing seven separate reviews of the international literature pertaining to old-age social exclusion. Stage one involved a review of conceptual frameworks on old-age exclusion, identifying conceptual understandings and key domains of later-life exclusion. Stage two involved scoping reviews on each domain (six in all). Stage one identified six conceptual frameworks on old-age exclusion and six common domains across these frameworks: neighbourhood and community; services, amenities and mobility; social relations; material and financial resources; socio-cultural aspects; and civic participation. International literature concentrated on the first four domains, but indicated a general lack of research knowledge and of theoretical development. Drawing on all seven scoping reviews and a knowledge synthesis, the article presents a new definition and conceptual framework relating to old-age exclusion.


Multidimensional disadvantage Later life Knowledge synthesis Old-age exclusion 



The authors would like to thank Mary Greene, Ronan Healey and Martin Porzig who provided research assistance in the preparation of this paper. This writing collaboration was supported by funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© The Authors 2016
corrected publication July 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Irish Centre for Social GerontologyNational University of Ireland GalwayGalwayIreland
  2. 2.Institute of Health & Society, and Newcastle University Institute for AgeingNewcastle UniversityNewcastleUK
  3. 3.Centre for Innovative AgeingSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK
  4. 4.Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research (AUTHeR)North-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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