Partners and others: Social provisions and loneliness among married Dutch men and women in the second half of life

Nan Stevens*, Gerben J. Westerhof

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The main goal of this article was to test whether the perceived availability of social provisions within and outside marriage in a representative Dutch sample of men and women in late adulthood would differ from findings from similar studies in the United States. We predicted that there would be more similarity between married men and women in self-reported social relationships, social provisions, and loneliness in the more feminine culture of The Netherlands than is often reported in research from the United States, where the dominant culture is more masculine. Data are from the Dutch Aging survey that involved a representative sample of 983 people between the ages of 40 and 85. As predicted, we found similarity between men and women in the size and composition of core networks, the provision of emotional support to and from the partner, and in the provision of instrumental support to others. Contrary to our hypothesis, women exchanged more emotional support with friends, children, and other family and identified these persons more often as companions in leisure activities. Despite the women's greater reported involvement in other relationships, these men were not lonelier than were women. For both men and women, social provisions from close relationships beyond the partner relation contributed to alleviating loneliness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-941
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender differences
  • Late adulthood
  • Loneliness
  • Marriage
  • Social provisions

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