A team of researchers, including Worlds of Connections Advisory Board members Robin Gauthier and Jeffrey Smith and their colleagues, University of Nebraska–Lincoln sociologists Marc Garcia and Catherine García, analyzed past literature on racial and ethnic disparities in social networks and the negative impacts of disasters on those social networks. The team also documented pre-pandemic inequalities in social network resources.
The analysis “Exacerbating Inequalities: Social Networks, Racial/Ethnic Disparities, and the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States” was published on August 6, 2020 in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B.
The researchers concluded that strong social networks are crucial for physical and mental health, but times of crisis can disrupt access to the resources that these social networks provide, especially for older adults and/or marginalized groups. Examples include disproportionate loss of social network members during crises like Hurricane Katrina and the current COVID-19 pandemic. The excessive COVID-19-related deaths among Black and Latinx populations will worsen these disparities in network size, the authors predict, and will, in turn, increase social isolation.
Read more about this and related research in Nebraska Today.