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Loneliness amongst older people in Europe: a comparative study of welfare regimes

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Thomas Scharf



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Springer Netherlands, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Previous research implies that the extent of welfare state regime provision plays an important indirect rolein the prevalence of loneliness in later life. The aim of this study was therefore to assess the associationbetween quality of living conditions and level of social integration indicators and the absence of lonelinessin five different welfare regimes. By incorporating welfare state regimes as a proxy for societal-levelfeatures, we expanded the micro-level model of loneliness suggesting that besides individualcharacteristics, welfare state characteristics are also important protective factors against loneliness. Thedata source was from the European Social Survey round 7, 2014, from which we analysed 11,389individuals aged 60 and over from 20 countries. The association between quality of living conditions, levelof social integration variables and the absence of loneliness was analysed using multivariate logisticregression treating the welfare regime variable as a fixed effect. Our study revealed that the absence ofloneliness was strongly associated with individual characteristics of older adults, including self-ratedhealth, household size, feeling of safety, marital status, frequency of being social, as well as number ofconfidants. Further, the Nordic as well as Anglo-Saxon and Continental welfare regimes performed betterthan the Southern and Eastern regimes when it comes to the absence of loneliness. Our findings showedthat different individual resources were connected to the absence of loneliness in the welfare regimes indifferent ways. We conclude that older people in the Nordic regime, characterised as a more sociallyenabling regime, are less dependent on individual resources for loneliness compared to regimes whereloneliness is to a greater extent conditioned by family and other social ties.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Nyqvist F, Nygård M, Scharf T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Ageing

Year: 2019

Volume: 16

Issue: 2

Pages: 133-143

Print publication date: 01/06/2019

Online publication date: 06/09/2018

Acceptance date: 22/08/2018

Date deposited: 19/09/2018

ISSN (print): 1613-9372

ISSN (electronic): 1613-9380

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1007/s10433-018-0487-y


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