Transitioning from Successful Aging: A Life Course Approach
Objectives: The life course perspective and representative U.S. data are used to test Rowe and Kahn’s Successful Aging (SA) conceptualization. Four sets of influences (childhood experiences; social structural factors; adult attainments; and later life behaviors) on SA transitions are examined to determine the relative role of structural factors and individual behaviors in SA. Methods: Eight waves of Health and Retirement Study data for 12,108 respondents, 51 and older, are used in logistic regression models predicting transitions out of SA status. Results: Social structural factors and childhood experiences had a persistent influence on transitions from SA, even after accounting for adult attainments and late life behaviors—both of which also impact SA outcomes. Discussion: The findings on sustained social structural influences call into question claims regarding the modifiability of SA outcomes originally made in presentation of the SA model. Implications for policy and the focus and timing of intervention are considered.
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