Transitions in Social Network Types over Time among Older Adults

Pildoo Sung*, Rahul Malhotra, Grand H.-L. Cheng, Angelique Wei-Ming Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Network typology studies have identified heterogeneous types of older adults' social networks. However, little is known about stability and change in social network types over time. We investigate transitions in social network types among older adults, aged 60 years and older, and factors associated with such transitions. 

Methods: We used data on 1,305 older adults, participating in 2 waves of a national, longitudinal survey, conducted in 2016-2017 and 2019, in Singapore. Latent transition analysis identified the distinct types of social networks and their transition patterns between the waves. Multinomial logistic regression examined the association of baseline and change in physical, functional, and mental health and baseline sociodemographic characteristics with network transitions into more diverse or less diverse types. 

Results: We found 5 social network types at both waves, representing the most to the least diverse types - diverse, unmarried and diverse, extended family, immediate family, and restricted. Between waves, about 57% of respondents retained their social network type, whereas 24% transitioned into more diverse types and 19% into less diverse types. Those who were older and less educated and those with worsening functional and mental health were more likely to transition into less diverse types versus remaining in the same type. 

Discussion: The findings capture the dynamics in social network composition among older adults in the contemporary aging society. We highlight sociodemographic and health disparities contributing to later life social network diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817-828
Number of pages12
Issue number7
Early online date13 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Social network typology
  • Change in social network types
  • Latent transition analysis


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