Age Differences in Daily Social Activities

by Christopher Steven Marcum

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The extent to which older and younger people do different activities when they are with others and when they are alone is examined in this paper. The author leverages interpersonal data in combination with information on activities from the American Time Use Survey to shed light on the long held finding that older people have less social contact than younger people. The results show that, net of intervening factors, age is associated with declines in time spent with others for virtually all types of time use. However, the variety of activities that older and younger people do also differs. Using leisure activities to probe this finding uncovers that, when older people spend time with others it tends to be during activities that are sui generis social activities such as attending parties - but that this is not necessarily the case for younger people. The literature on time use and aging is discussed in light of these findings and a new hypothesis on agency in the life course is proposed.

This paper series made possible by the NIA funded RAND Center for the Study of Aging and the NICHD funded RAND Population Research Center

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