Location, location, location: Close ties among older continuing care retirement community residents

Liat Ayalon, Inbal Yahav

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This study examines two theoretical explanations for the existence of close ties among continuing care retirement community residents: the attractiveness theory, which suggests that residents who possess certain attributes are more likely to be perceived as appealing to others; and the homophily theory, which argues that individuals are more likely to have close ties with people who share similar attributes. As a variant of the homophily theory, we also examined whether sharing a physical location makes the existence of certain connections more likely. Data from four continuing care retirement communities were used. To test the attractiveness theory, correlations between the number of individuals who named a person as a significant contact (ego’s in-degree) and ego attributes were examined. To test the homophily theory, the median value of existing ties was compared against all possible social ties as though they were randomly formed. Finally, to further test the role of the institutional culture against various motivations that drive social ties—attractiveness and homophily—we used link prediction models with random forests. In support of the homophily theory, beyond the institutional culture, the only consistent predictor of the existence of close ties among residents was sharing a wing in the retirement community (geographic proximity). Therefore, we discuss the role of the physical location in the lives of older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0225554
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Ayalon, Yahav. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


The study was supported by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation. The authors both work as Bar Ilan University and received their salary from the university. No additional support was provided. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

FundersFunder number
Bar Ilan University
Israel Science Foundation


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