Do men and women care if they are socially excluded or isolated?
There is mounting evidence to suggest that Australian women are more likely to be socially excluded, while Australian men are more likely to be socially isolated (Saunders, Flood, Patulny etc). The former denotes an inability to participate in normal' Australian leisure activities, usually through financial incapacity, while the latter represents a lack of contact and perceptions of isolation and social detachment. However, it is unclear whether such conditions correspond with reduced wellbeing. They may well reflect fairly contented gendered preferences for inclusion and contact. Alternatively, they may reflect the constraints faced by women and men in terms of affordability and social functioning associated with reasonable levels of mental health. This paper examines the incidence and preferences of social connection and exclusion for Australian men and women, using the 2006 Community Understanding of Poverty and Social Exclusion (CUPSE) Survey. It includes several models controlling for a range of key demographic variables, such as marital status, age and income, as well as affordability and mental health. Results show that while women are more likely to be socially excluded and men socially disconnected, the results for women are largely explained by affordability and mental health - but not for men. Furthermore, single middle-aged men (without partners or kids) are the most disconnected group in Australia, while single mothers are the most excluded group.