The goal of this r21 application is to test hypotheses about the association between familial health histories, subjective longevity, and retirement planning attitudes and behaviors based on linking responses to a retirement planning survey to a premier longitudinal, familial health database.
Our specific aims are to address the following research questions:
Aim 1. Is familial health history associated with subjective longevity? Does this relationship vary by diagnosis type and/or age of diagnosis/death? Aim 2. Through its relationship with subjective longevity, is familial health history associated with retirement planning activities? Aim 3. Given the evidence of a larger retirement savings gap for younger workers and women, does the impact of familial health history on subjective longevity and retirement planning activities vary by gender and/or age/birth cohort? This exploratory study will break new ground in two ways. First, we will use recently developed population genetics based measures to characterize familial health histories. These measures can incorporate health and longevity information from both first and second degree relatives. Second, our outcomes of interest are important, but little-studied retirement planning behaviors and attitudes rather than the often-studied retirement timing. As such our investigation will provide important insights into decisions about incremental retirement planning activities done over the life course that ultimately affect retirement timing. To the best of our knowledge, this will be the first time anyone has examined how population genetics based measures of health and longevity relate to retirement planning. Our results will help target retirement planning educational efforts as well as set the stage for building and testing theoretical models of the interrelationship between familial health histories, subjective longevity, retirement planning, and retirement timing.

Public Health Relevance

Many people are inadequately prepared for retirement, an unfortunate circumstance that affects the quality of life of thousands of older Americans. This exploratory study makes use of recently developed population genetics measures to characterize family health histories and link them to important, but little-studied retirement planning behaviors and attitudes. The results of this study will help better target retirement planning educational efforts and enhance our understanding of the role family health histories may play in Americans'retirement preparations.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-SSPS-H (09))
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Phillips, John
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University of Utah
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Salt Lake City
United States
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Zick, Cathleen D; Mayer, Robert N; Smith, Ken R (2015) Family Health Histories and Their Impact on Retirement Confidence. J Aging Health 27:775-96
Zick, Cathleen D; Smith, Ken R; Mayer, Robert N et al. (2014) Family, frailty, and fatal futures? Own-health and family-health predictors of subjective life expectancy. Res Aging 36:244-66