Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Steffen W. Schmidt


As current social trends to delay marriage and age demographics continue to change, the number of single adults surviving into old and very old age will increase proportionately. This demographic change represents one of the most important challenges for public policymakers, government leaders and employers alike as they work to balance the policy implications of what it means to survive alone in later in live. The purpose of this research was to compare three unmarried groups (e.g., never married, divorced, and widowed) and three age groups (e.g., 65-74 years of age, 75-84 years of age, and 85 years and older) with regard to individual attributes, such as education, economic resources, income, functional health, subject health and access to health services. One of the goals of the research was to determine age, gender, and marital status similarities and differences among groups. Results revealed significant marital status differences in two domains: education and functional health. For education, the never-married group scored higher than the other two groups, F (2, 224) = 10.91, p < .001. The widowed group scored higher in functional health than the never-married and the divorced groups, F (2, 222) = 3.22, p < .05. There were no significant differences across the age groups with regard to resources and outcome variables. There was, however, a significant interaction obtained among the age groups by marital status relative to access to health services, F (4, 213) = 2.51, p < .05. The never-married group age 75 to 84 reported the best access to health services, whereas the divorced group age 75 to 84 reported the lowest access to health services. One significant gender difference was obtained. Men scored higher than women relative to income F (1, 224) = 9.35, p < .01.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Susan M. Olson



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

56 pages