Social isolation, loneliness and wellbeing across the life course and between five British birth cohorts

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Background

This project aims to develop a conceptual and empirical understanding of social isolation across the life course and generate comparable measures across cohorts.

The relationship between social isolation and wellbeing will be documented from a life course and cross-generational perspective.

Research details

Project title

Social isolation, loneliness and wellbeing across the life course and between five British birth cohorts

Project lead

Dr Praveetha Patalay

Themes

Family and social networks
Mental health and wellbeing

Dates

September 2020 – September 2022

Funder

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Summary

We know that tackling social isolation and loneliness is important for wellbeing, and there has been increased policy interest in recent years. However, previous research is predominantly cross-sectional and focused on later life stages. Using large scale, population based, and representative data, this project aims to develop a conceptual and empirical understanding of social isolation across the life course. We will apply our conceptualisation of social isolation to five British birth cohort studies, identifying all relevant items across cohorts and sweeps. Items that are conceptually similar will be grouped to create comparable measures of social isolation across the life course and cohorts. These harmonised variables will be made available to researchers, laying the groundwork for future social isolation research with the British cohorts.

Life course trajectories of social isolation and cross-generational differences in trends will be explored, offering insights into at risk groups to inform prevention efforts. The association between social isolation and wellbeing will also be documented with a life course and cross-generational perspective.

Social isolation and loneliness are related but independent constructs. We will therefore also investigate the relative association of social isolation and loneliness on wellbeing at different ages across the life course.

This project uses data from:

Researchers

Praveetha Patalay Associate Professor

Phone: 020 7612 6051
Email: p.patalay@ucl.ac.uk

Praveetha’s main areas of research interest relate to investigating the development and antecedents of mental health (both ill-health and wellbeing) and their consequences through the lifecourse.

Morag Henderson Associate Professor and Co-Investigator of Next Steps

Phone: 020 7911 5566
Email: morag.henderson@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Henderson’s main area of research is inequalities across the life course. More specifically she examines patterns in educational attainment, bullying and wellbeing.

Rosie Mansfield Research Fellow

Email: r.mansfield@ucl.ac.uk

Rosie Mansfield is a postdoctoral researcher at CLS investigating the association between social isolation, loneliness and wellbeing across the life course and between five successive British birth cohort studies. The project is funded by the ESRC as part of their Secondary Data Analysis Initiative, and is the first large-scale study of social isolation, loneliness and wellbeing in the UK.

Rosie has a BSc and an MPhil in Psychology from the University of Liverpool, and completed her PhD at the Institute of Education, University of Manchester as part of the Department for Education funded, Education for Wellbeing Programme.

George Ploubidis Professor of Population Health and Statistics, Research Director & Chief Statistician

Phone: 020 7612 6107
Email: g.ploubidis@ucl.ac.uk

George is Professor of Population Health and Statistics at the Department of Social Science and currently holds the posts of Research Director and Chief Statistician at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies. Prior to joining UCL he held posts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Cambridge.

George is a multidisciplinary Quantitative Social Scientist with a primary interest in socio-economic, demographic and macrosocial/structural determinants of population health and the mechanisms that link these over the life course. He leads the Applied Statistical Methods programme at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies and is PI on the ESRC funded Cross-Cohort Research Programme,investigating determinants of healthy behaviours and lifestyles and the intergenerational transmission of economic status over the life course.

Professor Marcus Richards MRC Unit for Lifelong Health & Ageing, UCL

Collaborators

Deborah Hardoon

Dr Patricia Silvia Lucio

Psychology and Psychoanalysis Department, State University of Londrina, Brazil

Dr. Alexandra Pitman

Relevant studies

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL

Email: clsfeedback@ucl.ac.uk