The role of socio-economic status and neighborhood social capital on loneliness among older adults: evidence from the Sant Boi Aging Study

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2017 Oct;52(10):1237-1246. doi: 10.1007/s00127-017-1406-9. Epub 2017 Jun 23.


Purpose: The aim of the present study is to analyze the role of age in the association between socio-economic status (SES) and loneliness as well as the role of neighborhood social capital (NSC) in the association between individual social capital and loneliness.

Methods: Data include a representative population-based sample from Sant Boi de Llobregat (a suburb of Barcelona) of 1124 adults aged 50 and over. Logistic regression models were used to analyze the survey data. Interactions between SES and age, and NSC and individual social capital were explored.

Results: Among the poorest older adults, older individuals showed a lower likelihood of loneliness (OR 0.09, 95% CI 0.02, 0.30, p < 0.05) compared with the youngest cohort after adjusting for covariates, while among the richest individuals there were no significant differences among age cohorts. Individuals living in an area with high NSC and high individual social capital showed a lower likelihood of loneliness (OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.17, 0.73, p < 0.05) compared with those with low individual social capital after adjusting for covariates. The effect of individual social capital was not significant among individuals living in an area with low NSC.

Conclusion: Interventions focusing on low SES middle-aged (50-59 years old) individuals and those aiming to increase NSC could be effective strategies to reduce the prevalence of loneliness in older people.

Keywords: Loneliness; Neighborhood social capital; Socio-economic status.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Loneliness*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Probability
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Capital*
  • Social Class*
  • Spain / epidemiology