Urban Environment and the Independence of Senior Citizens

Amy L. Fuhrman, University of Washington

Seniors desire independence in their lives, which includes being able to participate fully, both physically and socially, in their home communities. Literature on aging and urban development suggests that seniors retain independence longer when their environment adequately provides for their needs, the most important of which is mobility. Residents of sprawling suburban neighborhoods often find their physical and social needs out of reach, prompting them to relocate into specialized homes for the elderly. Using longitudinal data and event history analysis, I find that seniors living in suburban counties are more likely to move to institutionalized housing, and at a younger age, than residents of urban or rural counties. This relationship persists after adjusting for influential factors such as health, co-residence with other family members, income, sex, and marital status.

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Presented in Poster Session 6