Older Rural Counties, Social Participation, and Elderly Self-Rated Health

Eric M. Vogelsang, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Both the number and proportion of elderly are increasing dramatically across the United States, but extreme population aging is much more likely to occur in rural places—the same areas that are often ignored in the environmental gerontology literature. This study examines possible pathways in which county-level age structure may be related to elderly self-rated health; even between rural areas. In particular, I investigate how various dimensions of social participation may explain or suppress these associations. Data come from the most recent wave of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Survey (2011). A sizable portion of elderly Americans will “age in place” in rural areas, and this study gives some indication that age structure may be associated with the social environment in ways that have implications for elderly health.

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Presented in Poster Session 6: Population Aging; Gender, Race and Ethnicity