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Network type, transition patterns and well-being among older Europeans

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Using SHARE data, this study was based on an earlier analysis that derived social network types among adults aged 65 and over in Europe. The current effort investigated the transitions that occurred across these network types after 4 years (N = 13,767). Four general network transition patterns were identified according to network type (close-family networks and other networks) and whether a network transition occurred. The associations between network type, network transitions and well-being (depression and life satisfaction) were examined. We regressed depressive symptoms and a life satisfaction measure on the network transition patterns, controlling for socio-demographic background, health and country. The results revealed that a majority of older Europeans experienced a range of network transition, while close-family-based networks tended to prevail over time. Moreover, respondents who remained in or transitioned to close-family networks had fewer depressive symptoms and better life satisfaction than those in other network types. The study, thus, underscores the varied effects of network types and network changes on emotional well-being in late life. It also demonstrates that beneficial changes can be made in one’s social network in old age, especially with regard to greater family closeness.

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This study was funded by Horizon 2020, SERISS (No. 654221).

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Correspondence to Michal Levinsky.

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Litwin, H., Levinsky, M. & Schwartz, E. Network type, transition patterns and well-being among older Europeans. Eur J Ageing (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-019-00545-7

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  • Social networks
  • Transition patterns
  • Longitudinal changes
  • Family relations
  • Well-being