European Older Adults’ Social Activity Networks in National Context: A Cross-National Exploration of National Cultural, Policy, and Economic Characteristics

  • Christine A. Mair
Part of the International Perspectives on Aging book series (Int. Perspect. Aging, volume 6)


Previous sociological and gerontological research documents the benefits of social ties for older adults. By integrating literature on linked lives, activity theory, and social networks, I suggest the concept of a “social activity network” (SAN), which is a broad network composed of activity-related ties and family network ties. Studies of older adults’ social activity networks cross-nationally reveal regional and national differences. Scholars suggest that variation in older adults’ ties may reflect cultural, economic, and policy differences between nations. Few studies, however, specifically examine the potential contextualizing role of national culture and economy/policy using empirical cross-national measures. In this chapter, I combine data from six sources including the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), World Values Survey (WVS), European Values Study (EVS), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Bank (WB), and United Nations (UN). Utilizing this unique combination of data, I empirically document cross-national patterns in European older adults’ social activity networks and discuss broadly the potential of such publicly available national measures for the study of European older adults’ social lives in multiple contexts.


Aging Social networks Cultural values Economic development Cross-national Europe 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA

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