CCHE Seminar: Older Adult Family Structure and Mortality in the United States

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Rachel Margolis
University of Western Ontario

Friday, January 18th, 2019, 10 AM – 12 PM, HS 412 (155 College Street)

Abstract: Older adults without available close family members have been shown to have higher mortality, but this research has focused on singular family statuses like being single or childless. We contribute to the literature by considering family systems, or groups of close family members, and mortality outcomes. Using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we examine survival patterns of older adults based on whether they have different combinations of kin including partner/spouse, children, and living siblings. We then examine four sets of potential explanatory factors for survival patterns by family structure including compositional differences, social connectedness, physical health and economic security. These findings have implications for older adults, the social support system and safety net, and public policies.

Biography: Rachel Margolis is an associate professor in the department of sociology at the University of Western Ontario. Her PhD is in demography and sociology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. Her work addresses how family dynamics shape population change in developed countries. Her current projects address the well-being of older adults without close kin, and the effects of parental benefits policies on families, work, and gender equality.