Current explanations of elderly household composition focus largely upon individual demographic, economic, and health characteristics and frequently ignore the effects of the community context within which elderly persons live. In this study, we incorporate the community context into an aggregate explanation of intermetropolitan variation in rates of living alone among elderly persons. We contend that three crucial community resources influence the rate of living alone: demographic and normative environment, economic affordability, and community social services. Data for Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the United States in 1980 provide initial support for this community-level explanation of elderly household composition.
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