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The Material Convoy After Age 50

30% of people over the age of 70 had done nothing to give away belongings over the past 12 months Findings: "Of general efforts to “clean out or reduce” belongings, claims to have done so “many times” decline across age decades (from 23% to 13%), whereas claims to have done this “not at all” are higher at older ages. Over age 70, the prevalence of inactivity (not at all) compared with frequent activity (many times) is nearly 3 to 1. The age pattern of less activity at older ages can also be seen for the three divestment strategies—selling, giving, and donating. Among the three specific strategies of divestment, donating is the most common, followed by gifts to family and friends, with sales as far less frequent. The hierarchy of strategies—apparent in all decades—is not surprising. Selling things requires skills, know-how, and special effort. Gifts to family and friends often require an occasion, premise, transition, or acknowledged turning point in the elder’s life (Ekerdt, Addington, & Hayter, 2011). Both selling and giving are social transactions that risk disappointment with the outcome. But donating to charities and agencies is easier because these recipients have regular hours and the organizations generally accept most goods."

Read full study in: Oxford University Press, Journals of Gerontology - Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences

Authors: David J Ekerdt and Lindsey A Baker