Cornwell, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center on Demography and Economics of Aging at the University of Chicago, is the lead author of the paper, The Social Connectedness of Older Adults: A National Profile, published in the April issue of the American Sociological Review. Other authors are Edward O. Laumann, the George Herbert Mead Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, and L. Philip Schumm, Senior Biostatistician in the Department of Health Studies at the University of Chicago.
The study was based on in-home interviews with 3,005 people, ages 57 to 85, between July 2005 and March 2006, as part of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project supported by the National Institutes of Health. The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago conducted the survey.
Laumann said the research provides a new way of looking at how people relate to society as they age. Additional time spent on social activities isnt necessarily a response to older Americans having more time, he said, or the result of a different perspective among older Americans as compared with baby boomers, many of whom are in their late 50s.
In this light, we may better understand the greater involvement of the oldest adults in civic activities not as an outcome of generational differences in commitment to community or civic spirit, but as an effort to regain control over their social environments, he said.
Cornwell said, The new image of the older American is this: Far from
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University of Chicago