Neighborhood Social Environment and Self-Perceptions of Aging.

TitleNeighborhood Social Environment and Self-Perceptions of Aging.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsChoi, EYoung, Zelinski, EM, Ailshire, JA
JournalInnov Aging
ISSN Number2399-5300

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Self-perceptions of aging (SPA) are associated with health and well-being later in life. Although prior studies have identified individual-level predictors of SPA, the role of neighborhood social context in SPA remains largely unexplored. A neighborhood social environment may act as a critical avenue for older adults to remain healthy and socially active, contributing to their evaluations of how they grow old. The present study aims to fill the previous research gap by examining the relationship between neighborhood social environment and SPA, and how age may moderate this relationship. This study is guided by Bronfenbrenner's Ecology of Human Development theory and Lawton's Ecological Model of Aging, positing that an individual's aging experience is deeply rooted in their residential environment.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Our sample includes 11,145 adults aged 50+ from the 2014 and 2016 waves of the Health and Retirement Study. We included 4 social and economic aspects of neighborhoods: (1) neighborhood poverty; (2) percentage of older adults; (3) perceived social cohesion; and (4) perceived disorder.

RESULTS: Multilevel linear regression models showed that respondents in neighborhoods with higher percentages of the older population and with perceptions of high neighborhood disorder reported more negative SPA. Those who perceived their neighborhoods as more socially cohesive reported more positive SPA. Controlling for individual socioeconomic and health status, only neighborhood social cohesion remained significant. We also found significant interaction effects between neighborhood social cohesion and age: The effects of neighborhood cohesion on SPA were stronger in middle age than in old age.

DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Our findings provide insights into how neighborhood social context is associated with SPA, suggesting that a socially cohesive neighborhood may be important to promote more favorable perceptions of aging, particularly for middle-aged residents.

User Guide Notes

Citation Key13270
PubMed ID37213322
PubMed Central IDPMC10195563