The UC Berkeley Social Networks Study, or “UCNets” is a five-year panel study funded by the National Institute on Aging, R01 AG041955-01. People in two age groups (cohorts) – 21-30 year-olds and 50-70 year-olds — will be interviewed three times, beginning in Winter-Spring 2015, allowing us to test how changes in social connections happen and affect health. We draw participants from 6 Bay Area counties: San Francisco, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara. During 2015-2016 we interviewed most respondents in person, while the other participants filled out a self-administered web survey. In the second and third waves, some of the participants who were interviewed in person will do the survey online. Two waves have been completed: the third is scheduled for early 2018.
UCNets is the first study of its kind in the country and quite possibly, in the world. Unlike many other studies, it has a young cohort as well as an older cohort. It has four overarching aims:
- To accurately and fully describe the social ties of a younger group and of an older group of Bay Area residents, paying particular attention to how those relationships change as people’s lives change.
- To identify the causal connections among life changes, personal ties, and health. How, for example, does getting a new job or retiring affect the number or types of people a person is involved with and in which ways? How do those aspects of people’s ties in turn affect their well-being, and in turn, does that well-being translate into better ties? The panel structure of this study will allow researchers to untangle the complex patterns of cause and effect.
- Identify standard patterns and variations in when and how personal networks respond to life events (e.g., job transitions, marriage, deaths of intimates).
- To test the practicality and validity of using web-based network numeration techniques. The project incorporates an innovative switching design from face-to-face to web interviewing.