Nativity and older women’s health: Constructed reliance in the health and retirement study

Cynthia Buckley, Jacqueline L. Angel, Dennis Donahue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gender and nativity are known risk factors for physical and economic dependency. Immigrant women are particularly disadvantaged because of their greater lack of social and economic resources. In this study, we investigate how women immigrants coordinate and utilize various support systems as they approach retirement age, as well as how choices and constraints affect their physical wellbeing. Experiences throughout the life course play a role in the maintenance of health, but the pre-retirement years are particularly crucial to the establishment of patterns of reliance to be used in later life. We examine the effects of economic resources, social support, and family ties (as well as several exogenous variables) on women’s physical health using data from the Health and Retirement Survey. For the women in this study, demographic characteristics, such as Hispanic ethnicity and low education are strong risk factors for poor health. Findings also indicate that reliance patterns across resource domains do not differ significantly by nativity and that both economic and familial resource access significantly lessens the risk of poor health for both native and foreign born women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-37
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Women and Aging
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Hispanic
  • Nativity
  • Retirement
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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