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Inequalities in associations between young adult caregiving and social relationships: Evidence from the UK Household Longitudinal Study

Lacey, Rebecca E; Di Gessa, Giorgio; Xue, Baowen; McMunn, Anne; (2023) Inequalities in associations between young adult caregiving and social relationships: Evidence from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. Journal of Adolescence 10.1002/jad.12202. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Introduction: Young adult caregivers (aged 16–29 years) are an important but underrecognized group of informal caregivers. There is some evidence suggesting that young adult caregivers have fewer social relationships. However, this research has been largely cross-sectional in design or restricted to caregivers, providing no comparison with noncaregivers. Further, there is little evidence on whether and to what extent there are inequalities in associations between young adult caregiving and social relationships by gender, age, caregiving intensity, or household income./ Methods: Using five waves of data on 3-4000 young adults aged 16–29 from the UK Household Longitudinal Study, we investigated associations between becoming a young adult caregiver and subsequent social relationships (number of close friends and participation in organized social activities) in the short-term (1–2 years after caregiving initiation) and longer-term (4–5 years later). We also assessed differences by gender, age, household income, and caregiving intensity./ Results: Overall, those who became young adult caregivers, and particularly those providing 5+ h/week, reported fewer friends in the short- but not longer-term. No associations were observed between young adult caregiving and participation in organized social activities. Also, there was no evidence of differences by gender, age, income, or caregiving hours./ Conclusions: Becoming a young adult caregiver is associated with a reduction in number of close friends, particularly in the short-term. Given the importance of practical and emotional support provided by friends, the early identification of young adult caregivers and greater population awareness of caring in young adulthood may help to mitigate the effects on social relationships.

Type: Article
Title: Inequalities in associations between young adult caregiving and social relationships: Evidence from the UK Household Longitudinal Study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/jad.12202
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/jad.12202
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 The Authors. Journal of Adolescence published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Foundation for Professionals in Services to Adolescents. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: caregiving, friendship, inequality, social activities, young adult carer
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10171834
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