Many existing studies lack a comprehensive picture of the social exclusion statuses and health outcomes of empty nesters and those empty nesters living alone or with a spouse only. Cross-sectional analysis was conducted on representative national data from the 2014 China Longitudinal Aging Social Survey, focusing on respondents aged 60 and above (N = 7,923). Four dimensions of social exclusion (social relationships, subjective feeling of being excluded, social activities and financial products) and three health outcomes (self-reported health (SRH), activities of daily living (ADLs) and depression), were considered. Results show that ‘empty nest’ older people were more likely to be excluded from social relationships and to experience subjective feelings of being excluded, and were less likely to participate in social activities than non-empty nesters. Empty nesters were significantly less likely to report fair SRH and ADL difficulties than non-empty nesters, but they were more likely to report having depression than non-empty nesters. Among ‘empty nest’ older people, empty nesters who were living alone were associated with higher levels of being excluded from social relationships and to experience subjective feelings of being excluded than those who were living with a spouse only. Future research could focus on the development of age-friendly communities which act as health interventions to address relevant situations of social exclusion and depression among empty nesters.
Bibliographical noteData analysed in this study were collected by the research project ‘China Longitudinal Aging Social Survey (CLASS)’, sponsored by Renmin University of China. The CLASS research project was conducted by the Institute of Gerontology and National Survey Research Center of Renmin University. The authors acknowledge the assistance in providing the data from the institutes and individuals aforementioned. The views expressed in this paper are the authors' own.
This work was supported by a Major Project of the National Social Science Foundation of China (21ZDA103) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (42171196).
- empty nest
- social exclusion
- self-reported health