Relationship status, social networks, and wellbeing among older adults
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The present studies examined the relationship between social relationships and wellbeing for adults aged 50+ among different marital status groups. Study one examined whether and how relationship status is associated with social network ties (i.e., social network characteristics, family and friend emotional support, and neighborhood social ties) and wellbeing (i.e., emotional wellbeing and self-rated health). Study two examined, within partnered older adults, whether social network ties are associated with one's own and/or one's partner's emotional wellbeing and self-rated health and also examined the moderating role of social network ties in the relationship between relationship strain and wellbeing. Analyses were conducted using the National Social, Health, and Aging Project dataset. Study one included 2,361 adults aged 57 and over with 52.7 percent identifying as female and 65.8 percent identifying as non-Hispanic White. Study two included 865 dyads with an average age of 70.91 with 50 percent identifying as female and 69.7 percent identifying as nonHispanic White. Study one found that marrieds consistently reported lower levels of social ties in comparison to widows and divorcees and men reported lower levels of social ties in comparison to women. Those who were partnered (i.e., cohabiting or married) reported lesser associations between social network ties and wellbeing as compared to those who were unpartnered. In study two, results suggested one's own and one's partner's social relationships outside of a marriage/partnership were associated with both partner's wellbeing. Men experienced more partner effects, with wives' relationship strain and social ties associated with men's wellbeing. Combined, these two studies demonstrate that social relationships, even those outside of a marriage, are salient to the wellbeing of older adults. They also lend support for the importance of cultivating social relationships, including social relationships outside of a marriage/partnership, throughout the life course.