Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice

Committee Chair/Advisor

Ye Luo

Committee Member

Karen Kemper

Committee Member

Lingling Zhang


This thesis investigates the associations between household social, economic, and physical environment conditions and the trajectory of self-reported functional limitations over time among middle-aged and older adults in China. Despite the increasing interest in the impact of household environments on functional decline, most existing studies are cross-sectional or concern changes in functioning observed in two waves of surveys, and they primarily focus on the influence of one condition. This thesis explores how the trajectory of functional decline is influenced jointly by multiple household factors, including living arrangement, annual living expenditure per capita, indoor air pollution resulting from solid fuels, and housing quality. To analyze the data, a linear growth curve model is applied to four waves of surveys of 13,564 respondents aged 45 years and older from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) conducted between 2011 and 2018. The study finds that female and older respondents experience faster functional decline compared to male and younger respondents, but there is no significant urban-rural difference in the rate of decline. Living alone, particularly for rural, female, and older respondents, is associated with a faster functional decline when compared to living with a spouse and without children. Improved housing quality is linked to a slower functional decline. Living with young descendants and without adult children for urban residents, and living with a lower expenditure per capita for younger respondents, are associated with a faster functional decline. Discussions are given for expected and unexpected results, the limitations and implications of this study.



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