Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This research investigates the determinants of living arrangements among non-institutionalized elderly. More specifically, it explores the factors which differentiate elderly persons living alone, living with spouse, and living with other persons, e.g. son or daughter, sibling etc. These factors are organized in terms of a decision-making framework developed from micro-economic and demographic theory. The framework is modelled after Dixon's (1978), where marriage patterns are viewed as the result of economic feasibility, demographic availability of mates and desirability of mates. Choice of a living arrangement is seen as the product of underlying norms and preferences, a set of socio-demographic factors, and constraints on choice.;Much previous research on this general topic has relied on census data, which did not provide direct measures of relevant factors such as physical health or attitudes towards residential arrangements. This dissertation uses data from 454 personal interviews drawn from a stratified random sample of persons 65 and over living in private households in London, Ontario.;Data analysis indicates that the decision of whom to live with is influenced by several of the variables defined in terms of the theoretical framework. For the present sample, the most important factors are the social norms and personal preferences of the respondents. Of these, a preference for independence and to a lesser degree, privacy, surface as the strongest predictors of living arrangements. Being able to do what one wants without outside interference tends to be viewed by older persons as a very important household good. The analysis also suggests that the constraining effects of past fertility, physical strength and mobility, domestic competence, and informal support and family characteristics are, to a lesser degree, also important. In addition, several socio-demographic variables (e.g., education, ethnicity, age and sex) arise as significant predictors of living arrangements. Part of their effect on living arrangements operates through preferences and constraints.



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