Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Robert Schafer


The "biologizing" of the life course presents a regressive view of women's lives that appears to be in stark contrast with the perceptions reported by many women at midlife today. Not only can women at midlife today expect to live another 40 years after their last child leaves home, but many claim they have never felt so healthy or so full of energy in their lives, and that they are just reaching their prime. These claims raise the question of just what it is that explains this difference in understandings about the years between young adulthood and old age;The purpose of this study was to expand previous understandings of women's lives by meeting two objectives. The first objective was to describe married women at midlife using a broad range of selected variables that have increasingly come to be used in sociological and psychological literature to define well-being. The second objective was to compare married women at midlife with married younger adult women using the same range of variables;By far the most important implication of this study is that it is both possible and important to understand women's lives as a complex of multi-dimensional and positive characteristics. Because of the complexity of individual lives across the life course, further research involving statistical approaches that can handle multiple variables and that can discern complex interactions needs to be done.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Carolyn S. Dunham



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

57 pages