Children, social contacts and loneliness: findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Sanna L. Read, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Emily Grundy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

We investigated whether number of children and presence of daughter(s) is associated with social contacts and loneliness, and whether contacts with children are associated with receipt of help from children in older age using data on women and men aged 60+ (n = 4492) from the nationally representative English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Information on number of living natural children, and having one or more living daughters was collected in Wave 1. Weekly face-to-face contacts with children were measured both in Wave 1 and 2. Weekly face-to-face contacts with other relatives and friends, loneliness, and receipt of help from children were measured in Wave 2. Logistic regression analyses were carried out, controlled by wealth, tenure status, education, marital status, health and functional status. The results showed that having a daughter was a stronger predictor of weekly face-to-face contacts with children for both women and men and for weekly face-to-face contacts with relatives and receipt of help from children for women. Weekly contact with children was associated with receipt of help from children two years later. Associations between number of children and weekly contacts and loneliness were weaker and were mediated by marital and socioeconomic status.

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Presented in Session 35: Family changes and consequences on wellbeing

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