Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 1 » Coresidence - Diversity In Living Arrangements, Advantages And Disadvantages Of Coresidence, Changing Patterns In Coresidence, Conclusion

Coresidence - Diversity In Living Arrangements

age differences percent women age live

Variations in the propensity to live alone or with others are found by age, gender, race, and ethnicity. As age increases, older people are more likely to live alone or with a relative other than a spouse—a product of increasing widowhood rates in later life. In general, rates of coresidence with sons and daughters are higher for older women than for older men, though this differential diminishes with increasing age. Gender differences in coresidence have much to do with spouse availability patterns that are linked to widowhood. Relatively fewer older men live alone, as compared to older women, because they are less likely to be widowed. In 1990, 79 percent of men between the ages of sixty-five and seventy-four, and 70 percent of those seventy-five and older, lived with a spouse, as compared to 54 percent and 25 percent of older women in these respective age categories. However, among the unmarried, older men were 17 percent more likely than older women to coreside with a relative (84 percent for men vs. 67 percent for women).

Patterns of coresidence among older parents vary by both their own age and the gender of their adult children. The young-old (age sixty-five to seventy-five) are more likely to live with a son, while the old-old (age seventy-five to eighty-five) are more likely to live with a daughter. The preference for daughters as household partners is found particularly among women who are over age eighty and living without a spouse. This is likely due to the fact that daughters are more likely than sons to become caregivers for an older parent. Indeed, scholars have expressed some concern that fertility reductions, combined with labor-force participation among women, may limit the availability of middle-aged daughters to serve as coresident caregivers for their very old parents.

There are striking racial and ethnic differences in the living arrangements of older adults. Relatively fewer older Asian (21.2 percent) and Hispanic (27.4 percent) women live alone than older white women (41.3 percent) and African American women (40.8 percent). However, in 1998 an estimated 42 percent of older white women were coresiding with a spouse, as compared with 24 percent of older black women. Older African American women are more likely than older white women to live with other relatives—a result of the higher rates of nonmarriage among African Americans. Older Hispanic women are also more likely than whites to coreside with other relatives, especially adult children. Similar coresidential patterns by race and ethnicity are found among older American men.

Differences in coresidence of the elderly by race and ethnicity have been attributed both to socioeconomic need and cultural traditions. Some evidence points to economic need as a more salient reason for coresidence in African American families, and cultural values are a more prominent reason for coresidence in Hispanic families. Asian Americans age fifty-five and older are more likely than white non-Hispanics of the same age to live with their grandchildren (21.9 percent vs. 4.5 percent). This difference has been attributed to traditional Confucian ideals of filial piety—the unquestioning obligation to respect and care for elders in old age. In addition, higher rates of marriage give Asian Americans a greater likelihood of having children and grandchildren with whom to live. Healthy and able grandparents are reported to play an active role in providing baby-sitting and housekeeping services to their coresident working adult children, saving them both time and resources.

Coresidence - Advantages And Disadvantages Of Coresidence [next]

User Comments

The following comments are not guaranteed to be that of a trained medical professional. Please consult your physician for advice.

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or