Title page for ETD etd-08252010-125740


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Fisher, Mary Caperton
Author's Email Address mgillett@vt.edu
URN etd-08252010-125740
Title Aging America: Essays on Population Aging and the Physical and Economic Landscapes in the United States
Degree PhD
Department Planning, Governance, and Globalization
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dawkins, Casey J. Committee Chair
Koebel, Charles Theodore Committee Member
Mayer, Heike Committee Member
Richardson, Jesse J. Committee Member
Roberto, Karen A. Committee Member
Keywords
  • housing choice
  • entrepreneurship
  • rural prosperity
  • economic development
  • population aging
Date of Defense 2010-08-11
Availability restricted
Abstract
Major population shifts shape both economic and physical landscapes of nations because demographic and economic drivers are inextricably linked. This study follows a three essay approach focused on the impact of population aging on two broad categories, physical and economic development in the United States. Specifically, this dissertation investigates later life entrepreneurship, elder housing choices and the impact of aging on rural prosperity.

It appears that age is a factor in later life labor force participation choices, with 61 to 70 year olds and those over 70 years of age exhibiting a greater tendency toward self-employment than their 50 to 60 year old counterparts. However, individuals over age 60 are more likely to retire than transition to self-employment. Still, economic developers should consider small business development programs that include even those ahead of the baby boomer cohort.

Amongst recent mover households, age influences dwelling selection. Households headed by 50 to 69 year olds are more likely to move to single family dwellings of 1,000 to just under 3,000 square feet. Conversely, households headed by individuals aged 70 years or more, are more likely to select multi-family dwellings and in particular, smaller units (under 1,000 square feet). Thus, oldest individuals are more likely to relocate to the smallest, highest density units even after controlling for increased housing costs, shocks, income and children. These results suggest that older households are not homogenous in their housing preferences.

As expected, population aging impacts rural prosperity. The effect is not significant for the proportion of the population aged 70 to 79 years. However, the greater the percentage of the population that is 50 to 59 years of old or 60 to 69 years old, the less likely a rural county is to be prosperous. Contrary to this finding, the greater the proportion of the population that is 80 years of age or older, the greater the likelihood of rural prosperity. It was originally hypothesized that rural areas may fall short of prosperity because of a mismatch between an aging labor force and the prevalence of physically demanding occupations - this is likely not the case.

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