needed to discover the mechanisms that link changes in social structures (education, job experience, income patterns, and family constellations) to individual differences in maintenance of psychological competence, well-being, and adaptive capacity as people age (Schooler and Schaie, 1987; Schaie and Schooler, 1989).
Whereas the dynamics of poverty among adults are increasingly understood (Duncan, 1984), fewer data are available about the dynamics of moving into and out of poverty. Lifetime earnings, personal savings, and pension coverage provide the resources for retirement, but income and wealth can be depleted during retirement by the death of a spouse, health crises, and/or adverse financial events (Burkhauser et al., 1988). The economic status of older people has been little studied; more research on this subject is needed to untangle the complex interrelationships among aging, economics, gender, racial/ethnic status, and health as measured by mortality, disability, chronic illness, and institutionalization.
Contextual variables are known to exert significant influence on behavior and performance. The mechanisms through which specific changes, events, or length of exposure to certain milieus influence behavioral outcome, such as role performance, health, and sense of well-being, are less clear. They must be addressed from a variety of perspectives, and caution is indicated in extrapolating from one cohort to another, particularly concerning expectations, attitudes, and preferences among older people. How social structure may affect psychological and biological aging may be explicated as well by study of the impact of social factors upon control processes that influence an individual 's sense of effectiveness over the life course (Rodin et al., 1985; Rodin et al., in press).
These include the following:
Social research: (1) Study the characteristics of employment, workplaces, and older individuals who are associated with continued productive activity in lifelong jobs or in new careers; (2) study how actual performance and expectations about performance of older people are affected by changing technology and examine the efforts of firms to use training and job respecification to make technological changes as age neutral as possible; and (3) develop and apply a multidimensional quality of life index to identify contributing fac-