Family demography in the Loft Group
The goal of our research is to examine the effects of family environments transitions and genetic predispositions in achieving healthy aging. We combine insights from a number of scientific disciplines such as demography, sociology, gerontology, public health, genetics, and statistics.
Good as well as bad life style habits are influenced by social relationships. The goal of our research is to improve the scientific understanding of the relationship between social environments and genetic predispositions for health problems associated with, for example, smoking, alcohol, obesity, cognitive ability and mental wellbeing.
We have a particular focus on the family environment and how family life trajectories across the life course impacts health and a successful aging process.
“We know that close family ties and a strong social network are positively associated with physical and mental wellbeing as people age. With our research we aim to improve early identification of vulnerable groups among the elderly by promoting an integrated perspective of social inequality and health science”, says Principal Investigator and Assistant professor Lisbeth Loft.
Ideally, our findings will not only have scientific value, but also be used when developing strategies for supportive and preventive social and health policies.
How do family environment transitions affect health and wellbeing in old age?
In this project we examine how patterns of marriage/cohabitation and childbearing, experiences of divorce/separation and re-partnering, and the growing diversity in families and children’s living arrangements influence physical and mental wellbeing in later life.
We use insights from demography, sociology, and public health to map prevalent sequential patterns of family relations across the life course. We then investigate the impact of these patterns on cognitive ability, depression, and obesity in old age.
How important are family environments for expressing genetic predispositions in old age?
We know that smoking, alcohol use, exercise, eating habits, mental capacity, and several other areas central to a healthy aging process are, in part, determined by our family environments.
To examine how family environments may be related to the expression of genetic pre-dispositions in old age, we use data that combine genetic information with social and demographic survey data. We examine three genetically heritable and directly measured predispositions critical to healthy aging, namely: smoking and alcohol use, obesity, and depression.