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Composition of older adult's family networks and its consequences for social capital

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Girardin Myriam, Widmer Eric,
Project Old Age Democratization? Progresses and Inequalities in Switzerland
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Personal Relationships
Title of proceedings Personal Relationships


This study explores the diversity of family networks in old age and its consequences for social capital. Data were derived from a sub-sample of 578 elders (aged 65 and older) from the Vivre/Leben/Vivere (VLV) study, a large survey addressing family life and health conditions of older people in Switzerland. A hierarchical cluster analysis was performed in order to create a typology of family networks based on family members cited as significant. We identified six family networks: “Procreation,” “Son,” “Daughter,” “Siblings,” “Kinship,” and “Sparse.” These unequally produce bonding and bridging social capital. Therefore, one should take into account the diversity of family networks in order to better understand social capital within families in later life.