Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Forrest A. Deseran


My dissertation analyzed the living arrangements of the elderly, focusing on differences across gender and racial/ethnic lines. Drawing upon rational choice and family solidarity theoretical perspectives. I derived hypotheses dealing with the effects of individual resources, cultural characteristics, and geographic context on the elderly's living arrangements. These hypotheses were empirically tested using logistic regression models to estimate the odds of the elderly choosing from among three options of living arrangements--independent living, joint living, and dependent living. Separate models were applied to non-Hispanic white, African American, Hispanic, and Asian subsamples. Data were from the 1990 Census Public Use Sample (PUMS-L). The sample (N = 32,774) was comprised of non-institutionalized U.S. residents 65 years and over who identified themselves as belonging to one of the four targeted racial ethnic categories. My findings revealed that, with a few exceptions, the effects of independent variables on the living arrangements of the elderly were mediated both by gender and by racial/ethnic status. However. regardless of gender and race/ethnicity, economic resources and marital status affected the choice of dependent living. Economic resources had an impact on the odds of being a household head but did not affect household structure, that is, the choice of between independent and joint living. Also, an unmarried status had a great impact on dependent living. To further refine my observations among Asians, I examined living arrangements of Japanese and non-Japanese Asians separately. I found significant differences between these two groups in their immigrant status, educational level, and income level. Furthermore, patterns of living arrangements of the Japanese are more similar to those of whites than those of non-Japanese Asians. However, the effects of independent variables on living arrangements among the Japanese are different from those among whites. In conclusion, understanding the living arrangements of the elderly cannot be reduced only to a consideration available resources. As my findings showed, other factors, including gender, geographic context, marital status, and racial/ethnic identity, collectively contributed to living arrangements choices.