Resource and Strategic Mobilization (RSM) model of productive aging: Examining older Americans' participation in various productive activities

TitleResource and Strategic Mobilization (RSM) model of productive aging: Examining older Americans' participation in various productive activities
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsShen, H-W
AdvisorCorcoran, ME
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
UniversityUniversity of Michigan
CityAnn Arbor, MI
Call Numbernewpubs20110418_Shen.pdf
KeywordsDemographics, Other, Public Policy

Older people involve themselves in productive activities for different reasons, but the theoretical frameworks examining their engagement in productive activities are limited. This study introduces and tests a theoretical model, the Resource and Strategic Mobilization model (RSM) to systematically examine how personal resources and social networks influence older persons' participation in three major productive activities: employment, volunteering, and family caregiving. Using nationally representative data from the 2004 Health and Retirement Study, this study included 15,312 community- dwelling older adults aged 55 and above. Predictor variables included personal resources (financial resources and physical resources), and personal networks (family demands and social events). Sociodemographic characteristics were controlled to obtain accurate impacts from the above three sets of predictor variables. Two age cohorts (the younger cohort, 55-64 vs. the older cohort, 65+) were examined separately, and for each age cohort, three logistic regression models were applied to assess whether older persons' personal resources and social networks influenced their engagement in employment, volunteering and caregiving. In addition, to better capture the diversity among older people, different gender groups and racial groups (Whites, Blacks and Hispanics) were also considered separately for each age cohort. Findings showed that greater financial resources influenced an older person's odds of being employed, and volunteering. In general, better health (more physical resources) increased the odds of working and of volunteering, but had a less pronounced effect on family caregiving. The greater family demands an older person had, the more likely he/she provided care to other family members. Engaging in social events influenced involvement in all three productive activities, especially volunteering. When age, gender and race were taken into consideration, the RSM model provided better prediction for those in the older cohort, and for Whites. As the RSM predicts, the diverse contexts of older persons, as indicated by personal resources and social networks, matter for what elders choose to engage in. Implications of using the RSM model to understand productive activities in which older people engage are discussed, and a new conceptual framework for productive aging based on the RSM model are presented.

Endnote Keywords

Older adults

Endnote ID


Citation Key6091