Familism, Social Network Characteristics, and Well-being among Older Adults in Mexico

Familism, is a cultural value considered to be central to Mexican culture. Older generations are thought to more strongly adhere to familistic values; however, little is known about the implications of familism in late-life. The goal of the current study was to examine links between familism, social network characteristics, and well-being among Mexican older adults. A sample of 556 older adults (50–99 years old) was drawn from the Study of Social Relations and Well-being in Mexico. Various aspects of social network characteristics and familism varied by age, gender, and education status. Familism was correlated with contact frequency and geographic proximity, but not proportion of family in network. Regression analyses indicated higher familism was associated with better psychological and physical well-being, yet familism interacted with proportion of family to predict both self-rated health and chronic conditions indicating that a discrepancy between familistic values and actual family support may be detrimental for older Mexicans’ physical health. The discussion highlights the complex interrelationships and potential protective effects of familism. Future research should continue to examine the implications of familism and family relationships in the Mexican context; in particular, how generational shifts in familism influence intergenerational relations and well-being.