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 Professor of Population Health and Wellbeing

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 Professor of Sociology and Principal 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.

Morag oversees all aspects of CLS’s work on Next Steps, and leads on the strategic and scientific direction of the study.

Rosie Mansfield Senior 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 and Principal Investigator of the National Child Development Study and 1970 British Cohort Study

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

George is Professor of Population Health and Statistics at the UCL Social Research Institute and currently holds the posts of Principal Investigator of the National Child Development Study and 1970 British Cohort Study 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 and a longitudinal population surveys methodologist. His main research interests relate to socioeconomic and demographic determinants of health over the life course and the mechanisms that underlie generational differences in health and mortality. His methodological work in longitudinal surveys focusses on applications for handling missing data, causal inference and measurement error.

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: clsdata@ucl.ac.uk