Re-thinking social exclusion in later life: a case for a new framework for measurement

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Ageing and Society


Catherine A. MacLeod, Andy Ross, Amanda Sacker, Gopalakrishnan Netuveli and Gill Windle

Publication date


Social exclusion is a dynamic multi-dimensional process that is interactive in nature. The complex interplay between domains, whereby each domain can act as a determinant, indicator and/or outcome of social exclusion, hinders understanding of the process and the mechanisms through which social exclusion exists. This article highlights the need to disentangle these pathways and move beyond descriptive accounts of social exclusion, presenting a new working framework that allows direct hypothesis testing of these between-domain relationships. Whilst this working framework can be applied to any population, this article focuses on older adults. Life events that can drive social exclusion such as bereavement and changes in health are more likely to occur in later life, and occur more frequently, increasing the risk of social exclusion for this population. Rooted in the new working framework, this article presents the construction of later life social exclusion measures for use with Understanding Society – the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study. The validity of these measures are considered by examining the characteristics of those aged 65 years and over who score the highest, and therefore experience the greatest level of exclusion. This new working framework and developed social exclusion measures provide a platform from which to explore the complex relationships between domains of social exclusion and ultimately provide a clearer understanding of this intricate multi-dimensional process.

Volume and page numbers

39, 74-111





Older People and Social Exclusion


Open Access; © Cambridge University Press 2017; This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.