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Childlessness among the Elderly: Effects of Social Ties Essay

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Childlessness and Social Integration Among Elders
According to Dykstra (2006), social integration refers to the idea that “people are socially integrated and embedded when their lives are tied to the lives of other in personally meaningful ways” (p.749). Such relationships often occur when individuals attend or engage in community events and social networks. Social integration leads to different levels of satisfaction in life among the elders with or without children.
Older populations with children are more likely to engage in social networks and expand their personal connections with others because they believe that it will create more opportunities for their children later in life (Dykstra, 2006). Also, older parents tend to have larger social networks as new acquaintanceships develop upon the presence of children. These acquaintanceships can be acquired from the neighborhood that people live in, through friends, and in the school that children attend (Dykstra, 2006). However, other research have provided opposing evidence that as most women consider parenthood as a central aspect of their lives, presence of children accounts for smaller network size among the mothers (Dykstra, 2006). Dykstra (2006) also argues that women with children are more likely to quit their job or forgo their desires for career as a result of childbearing. At most time, workplace provides a great environment for social interactions and development of friendships. Thus, housewives with children are less socially integrated and have smaller social networks compared to childless women in working environments (Dykstra, 2006). Relationships of employment and childlessness are not seen among male populations. To be more specific, social integrations among m...


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... T. (1998). Loneliness and depression in middle and old age: Are the childless more vulnerable? Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 53B, S302–S312.
Mair, C. A. (2010). Social Ties and Depression: An Intersectional Examination of Black and White Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 29(6), 667-696.
Plotnick, R. D. (2009). Childlessness and the Economic Well-being of Older Americans. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 64B(6), 767-776.
Wenger, G. C., Scott, A. & Patterson N. (2000). How important is parenthood? Childlessness and support in old age in England. Ageing and Society, 20, 161-182.
Zhang, Z., & Hayward, M. D. (2001). Childlessness and the Psychological Well-Being of Older Persons. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 56(5), S311-S320.



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