TABLE 6-2 Psychosocial Measuresa and Availability of Social Supportb Among Those Aged 50+: Percentage Responding Yes to Questions, Gallup World Poll, 2006–2007

Country

Stress

Worry

Sadness

Depression

Anger

Support Available

United States

35

28

19

11

12

96

Italy

31

44

29

13

17

86

Canada

31

27

16

8

12

95

Australia

30

26

20

11

10

93

United Kingdom

27

28

29

14

10

97

Japan

24

26

11

15

20

92

France

23

32

25

6

31

89

Denmark

14

22

15

6

11

94

Netherlands

17

35

20

5

7

89

aQuestions asked:

Did you experience stress during a lot of the day yesterday?

Did you experience worry during a lot of the day yesterday?

Did you experience sadness during a lot of the day yesterday?

Did you experience depression during a lot of the day yesterday?

Did you experience anger during a lot of the day yesterday?

bQuestion asked:

If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them, or not?

SOURCE: Data from Gallup World Poll Data. See http://www.gallup.com/video/106357/introducing-gallup-world-poll.aspx [accessed January 12, 2011].

likely among the populations of the countries studied here to be married in old age; clearly, however, cultural differences are the reason older people in Japan are less likely to live alone than those in any of the other countries (Palloni, 2002). The past high fertility of U.S. cohorts relative to those in the other countries adds to the likelihood that older Americans will live with a child and is one reason they have both a relatively low level of and recent reductions in solitary living. Thus, the available evidence does not support the hypothesis that social networks among the U.S. elderly weakened sharply in the 1980s and 1990s while remaining strong in other countries.

Discussion

Data do not currently exist with which to test detailed hypotheses relating to differences in the causal effects of social ties and networks across multiple countries, or even to document the distribution of such ties and networks on a detailed and fully comparable basis. Furthermore, almost no information is available concerning trends in social networks and their effects on health and mortality. Most of the data concern social networks



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