As childless adults become elderly, how does being childless affect their economic well-being and health status? The project's main objectives are to 1. develop a conceptual framework and a strategy for empirical analysis that can provide better, more comprehensive answers to this question than we currently have, and 2. use the framework and empirical approach to provide new evidence about the relationship between childlessness and a number of important aspects of elders'economic well- being and health status. The project's specific aims are: 1: Develop detailed descriptive data on observed differences in economic well-being and health status between childless elders and those with children, 2: Determine whether there are statistically significant associations between childlessness and a set of economic and health outcomes, net of other factors, and estimate the magnitudes of the associations, and 3: Take into account the likelihood that childlessness is jointly determined with the outcomes, and examine how doing so affects the findings. The Health and Retirement Survey will provide the data. The project supports NIA's mission to sponsor research on the antecedents and impact of changing social, demographic, economic, and health characteristics of the older population. To achieve aim 1, the study will use standard univariate and bivariate statistical methods. It will achieve aim 2 by estimating multivariate models for all sample members, and, to the extent sample sizes allow, for major sub-groups. Linear, logit, ordered logit, and quantile regression, hazard models, and other multivariate methods will be used, depending on the dependent variable.
Aim 3 will be achieved using instrumental variables models and comparing the results to single equation models. The aging US population will put increasing financial pressures on public programs that provide health care, income support, and social services to elders, and on the overall health care system. Because childlessness will be increasing among elders, it is important to know whether childless elders'economic and health status will generate different demands for income support, health care, and social services. Depending on their direction and size, such differences may further increase financial pressures or possibly mitigate them.
The project will measure differences in economic well-being and health status between elders who are childless and elders with children, and assess the extent to which differences in these outcomes are attributable to childlessness.