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The relationship between employment and social networks in the older population: A comparative European study

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between employment and social network membership in a secondary data set of European citizens aged 50-69 years. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A subsample of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) covering 13 European countries is analysed. Principal components analysis is used to reduce numerous social network characteristics to core elements than can be compared with country of origin, sex and employment status. A logistic regression is used to determine involvement in a community organisation. The independent variables are country of residence, age, sex and employment status. Findings ‐ Those employed were more likely to participate in a community organisation and to have a greater number of friends. Employment status did not affect the amount of family contact. Being employed was found to increase the chances of an individual being involved in a community organisation, but for many respondents, their country of origin had a great influence on the probability of not being involved. Research limitations/implications ‐ The ISSP provided no data on subjective health status and so it was not possible to control for the influence of poor health on employment and social network status. The limitations of sample weighting are discussed. Practical implications ‐ There is evidence from this research that continued employment in late middle age and early old age increases advantageous social network contacts. Originality/value ‐ This research challenges some previous research that suggested employment in old age might reduce social network activity.
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Keywords: Ageing; Social welfare

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 8, 2014

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