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Posted: 6th January 2013


The Dynamics of Ageing

"The primary objective of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) is to collect longitudinal multidisciplinary data from a representative sample of the English population aged 50 and older.

We collect both objective and subjective data relating to health and disability, biological markers of disease, economic circumstance, social participation, networks and well-being."

Starting in 2002, this continuing study is collecting data from adults 50 +. Since then, they have been periodically checking with the participants on various issues.

There are currently 10,274 participants involved in the study and the data is being used in various ways.

Wave 5 of this data study was published in October 2012.

The interesting point I found was from University of Manchester's Chapter on "Change in social detachment in older age in England".

- Almost half were detached from civic participation and leisure activities (p.48). And this doesn't seemed to have changed over any of the data sets (table on p. 55-57).

And perhaps a little more expected -

  • In 2010–11, women were more likely to be detached from leisure activities than men, but less likely to be detached from civic participation, cultural engagement and social networks.
  • Individuals aged 80 and over were more likely to be detached from leisure activities and cultural engagement than those aged 50–79.

The most striking sets of graphs are for those in context of wealth quintile and social detachment (p.61-63) from 61% - 18% being the difference between poorest and richest.

It seems from them that there is a real link between wealth and social detachment. Possibly this could simply be through people not being able to afford cultural activities (or perhaps, more importantly perceiving that they cannot afford it) or there could be more complex factors at work here.

A similar story occurs in the data for health and social detachment too - with 42% - 11% from poor health to excellent health.