Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name



Social Work

First Advisor

Faith Hopp


Purpose: Existing research has shown that elders experience changes in their life satisfaction following stressful life events. There is an abundance of literature supporting the predictive nature of not only stressful life events on life satisfaction, but social support, autonomy, and financial security. What the literature is lacking, is examination of the buffering effect of social support, autonomy, and financial security on the relationship between stressful life events and life satisfaction. This study hypothesizes that increases in social support, autonomy, and financial security will buffer the impact of SLEs for elders and thus, they will experience increases in their life satisfaction over time. It is also expected that social support and financial security will buffer differently among Black and White elders.

Methods: The public use files of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) between the years 2006 and 2012 are used to explore the interaction between social support, autonomy, and financial security with stressful life events and the impact on life satisfaction. Linear regression are conducted to explore each buffering impact on life satisfaction over time.

Results: The research findings in this dissertation demonstrate that the changes in personal resources; social support, autonomy, and financial security; play an important role in changes in life satisfaction. Additionally, Black and White elders are impacted differently by changes in financial security. In general, the results from this study demonstrate that individuals who have declines in their personal resources following stressful life events also experience declines in their life satisfaction.