Which Types of Non-Kin Networks Relate to Survival in Late Adulthood?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Lea ELLWARDT, University of Cologne, Germany
Theo VAN TILBURG, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands
Marja AARTSEN, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands
Background: Integration into social networks is an important determinant of health and survival in late adulthood. Non-kin relations are particularly believed to make a unique contribution, as they provide access to support resources beyond the family network. We investigate the association between older adults’ survival rates and integration into different types of non-kin networks.

Methods: Official register information on mortality is combined with data from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA). The sample includes 2,440 Dutch respondents aged 54—85 at baseline in 1992 and six follow-ups covering a time span of twenty years. Using latent class analysis, respondents are classified into distinct types of non-kin networks, based on differences in network size, social support and contact frequency. Membership in network types is next related to mortality in a Cox proportional hazard regression model. The model controls for socio-demographic characteristics and several health confounders at all follow-ups.

Results: There are four latent types of non-kin networks, which differ in their associations with mortality, net of all control variables. Older adults integrated into large networks of varied support live longer than those embedded in concise and relatively unvaried non-kin networks.

Conclusions: Neither contact with many non-kin relations, nor receipt of much support alone facilitates higher changes of survival, but a combination of both. This should be taken into account when developing intervention programs aiming at increasing social integration outside the family network.