Living arrangements, health and well-being: a European perspective

Harriet Young and Emily Grundy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

[Project number 30111]

The data will be used to examine pathways to living arrangements and the effects of these on associations with health in England and Wales. We will use LS data to ascertain whether poorer health is associated with longer term or most recent living arrangements and in particular to identify (partially) the effect that health-related household type transitions play in observed associations between living arrangements and health status. Similarly we will analyse differences in the health of those living alone at three or four consecutive census points compared with those who have only recently started living alone.

This project focuses on the possible consequences of different types of living arrangements for the health and well-being of older people, and will be based on analysis of existing data sources. Demographic changes over the last century have led to older age structures throughout Europe, accompanied by major social, economic and family-related changes. There have been declines in the proportions of older people living with children and increases in proportions living alone. However, substantial differences between countries remain. Research to date indicates that the consequences of different living arrangements for the health and well-being of older people is not clear-cut, and may be influenced by factors including social ties outside the household, socio-economic factors and cultural norms.

In this research, the European Social Survey, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study will be used to analyse associations between living arrangements and health and well-being across Europe and in more detail for England and Wales. The influence of extra-household support, socio-economic status and cultural norms on this association will be examined. Additionally for England and Wales, pathways to living arrangements and the effects of these on associations with health will be analysed.