Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jeffrey A. Burr

Second Advisor

David J. Ekerdt

Third Advisor

Jan E. Mutchler


Most older adults do not move. This study contributes to a different way of phrasing the later life geographic mobility question – why do older people change residences so infrequently – it is partly the case that they are emotionally attached to both the physical and social aspects of their homes and neighborhoods. This study examined the relationship between geographic mobility and place attachment (PA) among older adults. Study data were cross-sectional and drawn from the 2006, 2008, and 2010 Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Psychosocial characteristic variables indicating PA were found in the HRS’ Participant Lifestyle Questionnaire. The relationship between PA and variables indicating PA were analyzed with binomial logistic regression techniques. Several of the observed indicators of PA were related to geographic mobility and residential change in the direction consistent with place attachment theory in a statistically significant way. Three latent indexes of PA were then formed using exploratory factor analysis. Indexes formed related specifically to place scale (neighborhood and home) and place realm (social and physical). The relationship between geographic mobility (both local and non-local) and PA was analyzed with multinomial logistic regression techniques. Fully adjusted models controlled for demographic, socioeconomic, and health variables.

This study sought to add to the current literature on geographic mobility among middle-aged and older persons by creating a model that includes contributions from Place Attachment Theory (PAT), as well as from economic and developmental models of migration. This study found that level of PA did influence geographic mobility behavior on the individual person level. Furthermore, older adults with higher levels of some forms of PA (i.e. Physical Home Place Attachment and Social Neighborhood Place Attachment) were less likely to move either locally or non-locally. This was the case even after other factors related to mobility and migration were held constant (e.g. marital status, race, ethnicity, health status, etc.).


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