This paper focuses on individual and country-level circumstances shaping friendships between young and old to gain insight into conditions for intergenerational solidarity. Using European Social Survey data, findings show that relatively few people have cross-age friendships (18% of the young and 31% of the old). As predicted by the “meeting principle”, individuals who operate in settings where there are opportunities for meaningful interactions with people belonging to a different age group are more likely to have cross-age friendships. As predicted by the “disposition principle”, individuals with more favourable attitudes towards other age groups are more likely to have cross-age friendships. Neither the Active Ageing Index nor macro-level trust show significant associations with the likelihood of having cross-age friendships. Apparently, conditions that bring generations together are at the local level, underscoring the importance of decentralized initiatives aimed at increased contact and co-operation across age groups.

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Keywords friendship, ageism, age segregation, active ageing, intergenerational solidarity
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Journal Studi di Sociologia
Dykstra, P.A, & Fleischmann, M. (2016). Cross-age friendship in 25 European countries. Studi di Sociologia, LIV(2), 107–125. Retrieved from