Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kathrin Boerner

Second Advisor

Kyungmin Kim

Third Advisor

Frank W. Porell


Holding both work and family roles can be a central experience for men and women, young or old. Yet, to date, the bulk of knowledge on holding roles in both domains is specific to young adults, a critical gap as conditions warrant longer work life. This inquiry thus focused on older working men and women (over 50 years of age) with at least one family role (spouse, parent of adult children, caregiver to an aging parent, or grandparent). With survey data from the Health and Retirement Study in 2010 and 2012, latent profile analysis, path analyses, and regressions were conducted to investigate multiple roles in later adulthood: 1) The extent older workers experience role enhancement and conflict between work and family roles because of role stressors and rewards, and patterns of role enhancement and conflict experiences, 2) The extent role enhancement and conflict (a) mediate between role rewards/stressors and psychological well-being (aging self-perceptions, life satisfaction, and depressive symptoms), and (b) interact with each other when exerting their psychological impacts, 3) Gender differences in role enhancement and conflict experiences and in their psychological consequences. Holding multiple roles in later life was characterized predominantly by work and family roles mutually enhancing each other, rather than conflicting with each other, a pattern driven primarily by low role stressors and secondarily by high role rewards. Role enhancement and conflict mediated the effects of role stressors/rewards on psychological well-being, especially on self-perceptions on aging. Interactive effects were also found: Psychological well-being was fostered by work conflicting with and enhancing the family but compromised by a similar circumstance in the family. Finally, gender differences emerged. Women benefitted more than men from multiple sources of role enhancement and from their work role (even when it enhanced and conflicted with the family). Men’s psychological well-being was neutral to multiple sources of role enhancement, enhanced by multiple sources of role conflict, and compromised by later-life family (when it enhanced and conflicted with work). In conclusion, although men and women experienced multiple roles in unique ways, they overwhelmingly benefitted from socially recognized activities from work and family roles.