The life-course trajectory toward living alone: Racial differences
Objectives: Dramatic increases in living alone in late life have been associated with higher incomes and better health, obscuring the risk to subgroups living alone with diminished health and socioeconomic resources. This study describes race differences in the stability and life-course antecedents of living alone. Method: The prospective cohort study used data from the Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly at Duke University (n = 4,132) to estimate 10-year prevalence, incidence, and predictors of living alone among Black and White elders. Results: New episodes of living alone were equally likely. Black elders' lower prevalence of living alone was a function of their 80 percent greater probability of a new coresident episode. Home ownership, residential tenure, and perceived good health were lower among Blacks living alone, compared to Whites, who had fewer living children. Stressful life events had similar effects on household size. Discussion: Race differences in late life household size were primarily dependent on decisions embedded in midlife.
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