The Later Adulthood Study (LAS) was funded in 2015 by the National Institute on Aging, through the Institute of Behavioral Research, The University of Georgia. The Principal Investigator of the LAS is Dr. K. A. S. Wickrama.

The purpose of the study is to improve understanding of continuity and change in couple relationships and individual health as baby boomers transition into retirement. The study will also investigate how the transition into retirement impacts work, marital, parent, and social experiences.

We began contacting Parents in April of 2015 and ended data collection one year later. We are pleased that 500 households agreed to participate, with 383 couples agreeing to be visited in their homes and 117 participants to be sent questionnaires in the mail. THANK YOU to all who took the time to talk with us and participated in some level of the project!

Unfortunately, in some instances we called at a time when Parents were very busy or dealing with health issues or family matters. We greatly appreciate participants letting us know when it is not a convenient time, and when it might be possible for us to call back. We know that you are giving us valuable time when you take our calls, participate in visits, and complete questionnaires, and we don’t ever take your involvement for granted.

It is important to us that you are satisfied with your participation in the project. That is an important reason why our Interviewers are highly trained and carefully monitored during the data collection process. Please contact our project manager, Debbie Bahr, should you ever have a concern, or a compliment, to share about your participation in the study.

The following pages include some findings from this first wave of data collection which we hope you will find interesting. Don’t hesitate to call if you have questions about the information we’ve shared.

Our next wave of data collection will mirror the first wave, except that we hope to be out of the field in about half the time. As usual, we will send a pre-notification letter, but following is a brief summary:

  • Parents who are in a steady, romantic relationship will be asked to complete an in-home visit consisting of one video discussion task and questionnaires. The amount of compensation is $125 for each participant. By the way, there is one less questionnaire and most of the questionnaires have fewer items!
  • Parents who are not currently in a steady, romantic relationship will be asked to complete mail questionnaires. The compensation is $75. By the way, there is one less questionnaire and most of the questionnaires have fewer items!
  • Each parental household will also be asked to verify and update information such as relationship status, changes to employment, and retirement plans. This will be done on the phone during our initial call.
  • We are very flexible in scheduling in-home visits, and can also pick up your questionnaires if it would be helpful. Don’t hesitate to let your Interviewer know of any special needs or concerns you might have regarding your participation.

Thank you! We look forward to talking with you soon.

Where Study Participants Live

As expected, the majority of participants live in Iowa—85% of Parents, 64% of Siblings, and 70% of Targets. More Siblings and Targets not living in Iowa reside in Minnesota than any other state, while more Parents not living in Iowa have settled in Missouri than any other state. However, all three groups are mostly concentrated in the central United States, although Targets reside in more states outside of the area.

As you may recall, the Iowa Youth and Families Project began in 8 counties in north central Iowa. Following is a breakdown showing the percent of parent households currently living in these counties:

Butler

9%

Humboldt

6%

Franklin

7%

Marshall

8%

Hamilton

2%

Webster

5%

Hardin

10%

Wright

6%

Participants for the Iowa Single Parent Project were drawn across the state of Iowa, so we don’t have a similar breakdown of counties. SPP Parents still reside across the state, from as far west and north as Sioux City to Dubuque in the far east, to Ottumwa in the south east, Bloomfield and Creston in the south, and Council Bluffs on the western border. Interestingly, the town/city with the largest number of SPP households is Dubuque!

We asked Parents the following familiar question: Where do you live? On a farm; In rural area, but not on a farm; or In a town or city?

Here’s what we learned:

  • 15% of Parents live on a farm
  • 21% reside in a rural area, but not on a farm
  • 64% live in a town or city

How far do Parents live from their children in the study?

We asked Parents how many miles they live from their children in the study.  The following graphs shows how far apart they live according to ranges of More than 100 Miles, 50 to 100 Miles, 20 to 50 Miles, 10 to 20 Miles, and Less than 10 Miles.

distance parents live. email wickrama(at)uga.edu for interpretation

Retirement

We appreciate the patience that Parents showed in answering items related to retirement! Retirement is a complex issue in itself, and because we wanted to allow for the full range of possibilities that Parents might be experiencing in this dimension of life we did not provide a definition of retirement, which we acknowledge created some confusion. We want to assure you that your responses are greatly appreciated and are extremely valuable for furthering understanding of what retirement is and means to people prior to and during retirement. Thanks for your efforts to provide honest and useful answers!

We asked Parents for their retirement status—Not Retired, Fully Retired, or Partially Retired.

  • 41% of Parents reported they are Not Retired
  • 43% reported they are Fully Retired
  • 16% reported they are Partially Retired

All Parents, whether retired or not, were asked the following question: What about financial security after retirement. Do you (or will you) have adequate security? The responses were—Confident will/do have adequate security; Hopeful will/do have adequate security; Worried that will not/do not have adequate security; Will not/do not likely have enough to retire on; Other. The chart shown below summarizes Parents’ responses.

parents feelings about security. email wickrama(at)uga.edu for information

Finances

One of the strengths of the Family Transitions Project has been its work regarding the impact of financial stress on individual health and family relationships. In order to continue our study of the importance of this kind of strain, we asked the following standard question as part of a series of items about finances: Compared to 12 months ago, would you say your standard of living today is Much higher, Somewhat higher, About the same, Somewhat lower, or much lower.

  • The majority of Parents, 72%, responded that their current standard of living is About the same as 12 months ago.
  • Thirteen percent of Parents reported that their current standard of living is Much higher or Somewhat higher than 12 months ago.
  • And fifteen percent reported that their current standard of living is Somewhat lower or Much lower than 12 months ago.

Parents' Marital & Relationship Status

The following information was reported by Parents regarding marital status. 

Married

74%

Living together in a marriage-like relationship

2%

Divorced or Separated **

16%

Widowed **

8%

** Not remarried or living with anyone

Parents who were not Married or Living together in a marriage-like relationship, were asked their relationship status. Here’s what we learned:

  • Fifteen percent of Parents reported they are in a steady, romantic relationship with one person.
  • Five percent reported they are dating, but do not have a steady, romantic relationship with one person.
  • And, by far the majority, eighty percent, reported they are not currently dating

Parents' Feelings About Their Health

One of the goals of the Later Adulthood Study is to understand the status of physical health of those  in the baby-boomer generation.

This helps with understanding health changes over time, because you have provided similar information in the past.

It also provides an idea of the health of a large portion of the population in the United States, because participants in the Family Transitions Project have been shown to be representative of the overall population.

One of the questions we asked Parents about their health is: Would you say your overall physical health is better or worse than other people your age? The responses were Much better, A little better, About the same, A little worse, or Much worse. 

Here is what Parents reported:

Response

Mother Percent

Father Percent

Much better

18%

15%

A little better

32%

35%

About the same

34%

34%

A little worse

12%

14%

Much worse

4%

2%

Parents' Children

We asked Parents how many children they have:

2 Children

29%

3 Children

34%

4 Children

20%

5 or more Children

17%

How Old Do Parents Feel?

Parents, including step-parents and romantic partners, range in age from 40 years to 87 years old. We asked Parents the following question: Many people feel older or younger than they actually are. What age do you feel most of the time?

Mothers reported the following, which we’ve summarized by decade for the purposes of the newsletter:

Less than 40 years old

2%

In their 40s

10%

In their 50s

43%

In their 60s

35%

In their 70s

7%

In their 80s and older

3%

The age reported by more Mothers than any other was age 50.

FATHERS reported the following, also summarized by decade:

Less than 40 years old

1%

In their 40s

8%

In their 50s

32%

In their 60s

43%

In their 70s

14%

In their 80s and older

2%

The top 2 answers for Fathers were age 50 and age 60.