Other Factors in Friendship

With respect to the number of friends that one has, people of higher socioeconomic status tend to have more friends than those of lower status. On the whole, the latter are more kin-oriented than friend-oriented and hence have much closer relationships with their relatives than with nonrelatives. Ethnicity is also associated with the number of friends, with whites having more contact with friends and neighbors than blacks or Hispanics (Dowd & Bengtson, 1978). Ethnicity is, of course, related to socioeconomic status, so these two variables are not independent in their relationships to friendship.

Marital status is also related to the number and nature of friendships. Young, married adults typically have a greater number of friends and see them more often than single or widowed adults (Aizenberg & Treas, 1985). The situation is different among retired older adults. Unmarried retirees spend twice as much time as married retirees with friends (Larson et al., 1986). Older widows and widowers also see their friends more often than older married couples (Field & Minkler, 1988).

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