|Cohort membership and perspectives on aging
|Year of Publication
|Number of Pages
|Adelphi University, The Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies
|0351:Gerontology, 0621:Psychology, Gerontology, Psychology, Social Sciences
This study is an investigation into cohort membership and perspectives on aging, specifically whether Baby Boomers, born between 1948 and 1965 and socialized in an era of individualism and youthfulness, view aging differently from previous generations. In an exploratory study, responses to three key outcome variables (Satisfaction with Aging, Subjective Age, and Subjective Life Expectancy) were analyzed using a demographically diverse, nationally representative U.S. sample, age 55 and over (N = 2898) from the Health and Retirement Study (FIRS). Because data were collected at only two time points (2008 and 2012), the ability to distinguish between age, cohort, and period effects was limited. Findings indicate that the group born between 1942 and 1945 (between ages 63 and 66 in 2008 and 67 and 70 in 2012) was most satisfied with aging. Research indicates that people in their sixties report fewer worries than in late midlife; in addition, this group was raised in a time when the clouds of scarcity and war were lifting, thereby coming of age in a time of optimism. The group born between 1938 and 1941 felt significantly younger in 2008 compared to 2012. As this age group moved into their seventies, they may have noticed more of the physical effects of aging. However, given that these two time points squarely bracket the U.S. recession, there may also have been a period effect; that is, someone seeing their retirement savings dwindling might focus more on being old. Including gender, race, and ethnicity in the model added complexity to the findings. For example, among men born between 1934 and 1941, Hispanic men were significantly more satisfied with aging than were Non-Hispanic men, and Hispanic women born between 1950 and 1953 reported significantly greater satisfaction with aging than did Non-Hispanic women. These findings call for more detailed inquiries. As data are collected at more time points, it should become more feasible to disentangle the effects of cohort, period and age. The inclusion of gender, race, and ethnicity suggests that perspectives on aging may vary greatly in different socio-cultural environments, calling for qualitative studies.
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