Past experiences and older adults' attitudes: a lifecourse perspective

A.R. Poortman, T.G. van Tilburg

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    Abstract

    In this study we apply a lifecourse perspective to an examination of older adults' attitudes about gender roles and moral issues. The study goes beyond previous research in that it examines the relationships between older adults' attitudes and: (a) experiences in the parental home, (b) people's own marital and work experiences through the entire lifecourse, and (c) the marital and work experiences of their children. The sample consists of respondents aged 55 or more years from the 'Living Arrangements and Social Networks of Older Adults in The Netherlands' survey of 1992 and the 'Longitudinal Ageing Study Amsterdam'. It is shown that a large majority of older adults subscribe to the view that people have the freedom to make their own choices about the issues of voluntary childlessness, abortion and euthanasia. Similarly, most older adults favour equality between men and women. Multivariate analyses show that people's attitudes are generally consistent with their lifecourse experiences. It is found that unconventional lifecourse experiences, particularly with respect to childbearing, associate with more progressive attitudes in late life. The behaviour and lifecourse experiences of their children are also related to older adults' attitudes. Particularly, if their children co-habited, older adults tend to be more progressive. These findings suggest that an important mechanism by which societal change may have affected older adults is through their children's experiences.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-39
    Number of pages21
    JournalAgeing and Society
    Volume25
    Issue number1
    Early online date10 Jan 2005
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005

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