Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Current Projects

Project Title:

Kin networks and late life mortality and wellbeing in Scotland, 1991-2011

Project Number:



Dr Julia Jennings, University at Albany, State University of New York
Dr Lee Williamson, University of Edinburgh

Start Date:

15th October 2020


This project builds upon small-scale historical research in Orkney, Scotland (Jennings et al. 2019) to investigate the effects of coresident kin on mortality and health in the SLS, a representative sample drawn from contemporary Scotland. The SLS data can provide 3 decennial follow-ups of members and coresident kin with some observations of member health status and prospective follow up on mortality events. While the SLS portion of the study is independent from this prior work, comparisons of the findings of each study may be made in an effort to connect past and contemporary processes of aging and kin support within Scotland.  

This study aims to address the following specific aims: 
Aim 1a: Are coresident kin and spouse/partner survival associated with health and survival in the SLS and does it change over the life course? I expect to observe the robust association between kin availability and support and wellbeing among older adults, but expectations about the strength and direction of change are unclear. As the size and composition of coresident kin changes over time, some older adults may adapt well, while others may not. 
Aim 1b: Are the relationships between coresident kin and health and survival explained by other factors? The role of kin in support for aging adults may not be the same across socioeconomic, ethnic, or religious groups. Further, these processes may be different in urban versus rural areas.  
Aim 2: To what extent is the presence of coresident kin associated with outcomes that could be affected by social support? Certain causes of death, for example, may indicate underlying ailments that are more likely to respond to assistance from others. By examining changing coresidence patterns and cause of death (among those older adults who die), we can begin to differentiate the contribution of coresident kin to social support from other factors that are also associated with coresidence that affect health and longevity.  
Aim 3: Do early-life conditions affect the association between coresident kin and health and mortality in late life? Aims 1 and 2 will be replicated with the SLS Birth Cohort of 1936 (SLSBC1936) sub-sample. This sample will allow us to include control variables for early life conditions, including socioeconomic status and family context.  


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