Postgraduate research opportunities

fRaill is an interdisciplinary project involving researchers from sociology, medicine, genetics, social gerontology, social statistics and public health/epidemiology.

The strengths of the research team across disciplines provide for an exciting mix of research opportunities within the project around the core interest of Frailty, Resilience And Inequality in Later Life.

The research team would like to encourage applications to the University in key areas of interest to the project.

Suggested topics would cover:

The role of social networks in later life

It is known that social support plays a major role in the psychological health and well-being of people in general, and in later life in specific, but relatively few studies have investigated this relation using longitudinal data. How does social contact change for ageing individuals? Can influences of birth cohort or time period be witnessed, for example in relation to single or separated ageing people? What is the role of inequality in maintaining social connections in old age? Using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a study since 2002 comprising 5 waves, these and other questions could be answered.

Social support and the welfare state across Europe: a comparative study

Variations in social support exist across countries, and between people in the same country. Culture plays an important role in these variations: in Northern and Western Europe, there is a more individualist and less family oriented perspective on life, while in Southern Europe family ties are more important. Similarly, welfare state regimes differ strongly across Europe (See esping andersen). To what extent do welfare state regimes go hand in hand with these cultural mechanisms, or in other words, can variations in social support be explained through variations in the welfare state? The Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) could be used to answer these questions, or even to investigate changes across time in European countries.

Age-period-cohort effects on wellbeing

In studies on wellbeing, the relation with age, which is thought to be U-shaped, is often the focus of attention. Nevertheless, age is only one of three possible explanations looking at time and well-being, next to time period and birth cohort. Using longitudinal data and distinguishing more than one time-effect could prove to be a very relevant topic of study, in times of economic crisis and the ageing of baby boomers, since different birth cohorts might react different to external periodic shocks. One possible way to examine this topic would be by using the European Social Survey (ESS) and constructing synthetic birth-cohorts out of this repeated cross-sectional study. One could focus for example on Greece, the country most severely struck by the crisis, and investigate if older or younger generations show a stronger decline in wellbeing.

Trajectories in healthy life expectancy in England

It is not clear whether increases in healthy life expectancies (the number of years of life a person can expect to live in good health) are keeping pace with the increases in life expectancy. This proposed PhD study will provide a comprehensive account of trends in healthy life expectancies in England (2002-2011) using data from five waves of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and vital statistics data on mortality. The project will make a methodological contribution by evaluating the robustness of different methodologies for the estimation of healthy life expectancy. As ELSA includes information on transitions into and out of poor health then healthy life expectancies can be calculated using multistate methods or the method of double extinction as well as Sullivan’s method which only requires cross-sectional data.