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See detailAs Goes the City? Older Americans’ Home Upkeep in the Aftermath of the Great Recession
Schafer, Markus; Settels, Jason UL; Upenieks, Laura

in Social Problems (2019)

The private home is a crucial site in the aging process, yet the upkeep of this physical space often poses a challenge for community-dwelling older adults. Previous efforts to explain variation in ... [more ▼]

The private home is a crucial site in the aging process, yet the upkeep of this physical space often poses a challenge for community-dwelling older adults. Previous efforts to explain variation in disorderly household conditions have relied on individual-level characteristics, but ecological perspectives propose that home environments are inescapably nested within the dynamic socioeconomic circumstances of surrounding spatial contexts, such as the metro area. We address this ecological embeddedness in the context of the Great Recession, an event in which some U.S. cities saw pronounced and persistent declines across multiple economic indicators while other areas rebounded more rapidly. Panel data (2005–6 and 2010–11) from a national survey of older adults were linked to interviewer home evaluations and city-level economic data. Results from fixed-effects regression support the hypothesis that older adults dwelling in struggling cities experienced an uptick in disorderly household conditions. Findings emphasize the importance of city-specificity when probing effects of a downturn. Observing changes in home upkeep also underscores the myriad ways in which a city’s most vulnerable residents— older adults, in particular—are affected by its economic fortunes. [less ▲]

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See detailFor everything a season? A month-by-month analysis of social network resources in later life
Upenieks, Laura; Settels, Jason UL; Schafer, Markus

in Social Science Research (2017)

It is widely acknowledged that informal social ties provide older persons with many resources that serve to protect and improve their levels of health and well-being. Most studies on this topic, however ... [more ▼]

It is widely acknowledged that informal social ties provide older persons with many resources that serve to protect and improve their levels of health and well-being. Most studies on this topic, however, ignore the month or season of the year during which data was accumulated. This study proposes two hypotheses to explain seniors' social network resources over the calendar year: the “fluctuation hypothesis”, which proposes that seasonal variation, in the form of weather fluctuations, institutional calendars, and holidays, might influence the social lives and resources of older persons, and the “network stability” perspective, which, informed by tenets of convoy theory and socioemotional selectivity theory, emphasizes the increasing importance of close network ties as individuals age and the stability of these ties. Using two waves (2005e2006 and 2010e2011) of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), a nationally representative sample of community-dwelling older adults aged 57e85 in the United States, we examine a diverse set of nine social connectedness outcomes. Results, overall, support the network stability perspective, as the only social connectedness outcome found to significantly vary by month of year was average closeness with network members. We conclude by suggesting some methodological considerations for survey research and by noting how these findings complement the growing literature on inter-year fluctuation in social networks and social support. Changes in older adults’ networks, while frequently observable over the course of years, do not seem to be seasonally patterned. [less ▲]

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