Understanding the friendship networks of older Black and Minority Ethnic people living in the United Kingdom

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

July 15, 2021


Older Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people living in the United Kingdom (UK) are vulnerable to the experiences of social isolation and loneliness. Despite this, it is widely assumed that they adhere to traditional family practices and living arrangements that protect them from social isolation and loneliness. Such assumptions are problematic and can reify family networks as the main area of research for older BME people to the detriment of friendship networks which are also crucial. However, few researchers have explored this area. With the older BME population increasing at a faster rate than the older white population, further research is needed. Utilising data from Wave 6 of Understanding Society (N = 7,499, 4.3% of whom self-identified as BME), this study explores the ways in which the friendship networks of older BME people differ compared to older white people using logistic regression analyses. After controlling for potential confounding socio-demographic characteristics, older BME people were more likely to report having fewer close friends and fewer friends who live locally, suggesting that their friendship networks may be restricted in quantity and accessibility. Not only do these findings raise important questions about the varying needs of older minority ethnic people who have been largely overlooked in recent government policy, but they also highlight the continuing challenges of using large-scale surveys to research older BME people in the UK.

Published in

Ageing and Society

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 41 , p.1 -1







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