Socio-economic inequalities in profiles of social integration across adulthood: evidence from a British birth cohort study
Keywords:United Kingdom, social integration, social engagement, socioeconomic position, gender, cohort, longitudinal, National Survey of Health and Development.
Social integration in older age is a key quality of life component and is associated with reduced mortality and morbidity risk. There are socio-economic differences in social integration, but the influence of different indicators of socio-economic position on long-term change in social integration at older ages is not known.
This study aimed to identify profiles of social integration across adulthood and explore the impact of various socio-economic indicators at different ages. Data were drawn from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development.
A latent class analysis used measures of contact with friends and family, participation in group activities and marital status at ages 36, 43 and 60-64 to identify profiles of change in social integration for men and women. One-step analyses related profiles to father’s occupation-based socio-economic position, own educational attainment and head of household occupation-based socio-economic position.
Four profiles of social integration were identified for men: high and maintained, married; medium and maintained, married; declining, married; and declining, unmarried. Higher head of household occupation and educational attainment were associated with greater likelihood of maintained integration.
Four profiles of social integration were also identified for women: high and maintained, married; high and maintained, unmarried; declining group participation, unmarried; and declining group participation, married. Higher socio-economic position on all indicators was associated with greater likelihood of maintained integration.
Lower socio-economic groups are more likely to experience declining social integration by early old age. Support to promote social integration may be particularly important for those with lower occupational grade or education.
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