9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN01 Ageing in Europe

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Political Aspects of Ageing Building II, C5.08

Aspects of social exclusion: age as a core risk factor for social isolation

The mainstream approach to ageing in Latvia so far was to treat it as a problem of one particular socio-demographic group - elderly people and pensioners. The objective of our research is to analyze ageing-related social isolation and social exclusion in the context of the whole society and to make comparisons with other risk groups (unemployed, disabled etc.).

The theory of social exclusion forms the theoretical basis for our analysis. The concept treats mechanisms of exclusion as a process of forcing certain groups out of the majority of society (Gidenss, 1998). Despite of wide variety of approaches to social exclusion all of them include three components: unemployment, poverty and social isolation (Gallie, 2004). It allows to see social isolation as one of dimensions of social exclusion and to measure their mutual relations. Social isolation is characterized by insufficient social ties - weak social support from social relations and low participation in social groups. Social isolation strengthens the expressions of exclusion caused by poverty and unemployment. D. Gallie distinguishes three levels of social isolation: primary (relations within family and household), secondary (relations with friends and neighbors) and tertiary (participation in social life and social groups).

The link between social isolation, risk of social exclusion and age is analyzed by employing data from the project "Causes and length of unemployment and social exclusion" (ESF program in Latvia, 2007). The calculations of indexes of social isolation for all three levels of social relations are based on quantitative data (population survey, n=7787). Association between dimensions of exclusion and factors which increase the risk of it were calculated by employing multiple regression analysis. Cluster analysis was performed in order to combine different risk groups into categories while having exclusion and related risks in mind. The results of analysis show that exclusion dimensions are closely related to each other: high level of exclusion in one dimension is linked to high exclusion risk in the others. The most significant factors of social exclusion are: underdeveloped socio-economic environment and age. The most affected groups by the risk of social isolation are people in preretirement age and those already retired.