This application seeks five years of support to collect new two waves of data (2014-2019) from a panel of nearly 400 couples who participated in earlier waves of the Family Transitions Project (FTP;1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1994) and the Midlife Transition Project (MTP;2001). The purpose of returning to this panel is to document the continuity and change in couple relationships and health (broadly defined to include mental and physical health) over transition from middle to later years. The data assembled under FTP and MTP are now being augmented by a third project, a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS), whereby genetic data are being collected from the same adults. Nearly all of the participants are baby-boomers who are in their retirement years. Adding new two waves of data to these past waves provides a wealth of prospective data on men and women as they currently transition through the retirement years. Previous research on the continuity and change in couple relationships and health over elder years is mixed. This may be attributed to the limited ability of previous studies to investigate the couples'interactions and relationship quality withi the contexts of long-term couple relationships and life histories, and the failure to take spouses' work and economic circumstances into account. Furthermore, most studies on couples'relationship in elder years have not been able to capitalize on new research regarding genetic markers. The proposed study is well-positioned to address these concerns. By combining new data with the earlier data described above, we will have extensive information on couples collected over a 25 year period. The data will include intensive assessments of marital, economic, and work histories, parental experiences, social status, support, and physical and mental health as well as genotypic information. This comprehensive perspective and the 'long-term view'offer the prospect of resolving contradictions in existing research. We will place the transition from midlife to later adulthood in a long-term life course and family contexts and examine continuity and change in couple relationships and health. We will also take into account the moderating effects of enduring vulnerabilities including those attributable to genetic markers. We will use the cutting-edge analytical techniques that have been the hallmark of our past research.

Public Health Relevance

The health (broadly defined to include relational, psychological, mental and physical health) of the baby boom cohort is an enormous public health concern, especially during this time of economic depression. NIH has placed a high priority on the study the aging population's health. The goal of the current study is to improve knowledge regarding the continuity and change in couple relationships and health during later adulthood by investigating influences of long-term work, marital, parental and social experiences, and the retirement transition as well as genetic markers.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section (SPIP)
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Gerald, Melissa S
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University of Georgia
Sch of Home Econ/Human Ecology
United States
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