July 29, 2008

Professor Jamila Bookwala Receives Grant for Research on Impact of Divorce Later in Life

Project will include student collaboration

Jamila Bookwala, associate professor of psychology, was recently awarded a grant from the 2008 Wisconsin Longitudinal Pilot Study Program to support her research on the effects of people divorcing later in life.

The pilot program is located at the Center for Demography of Health and Aging (CDHA) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and much of the research will focus on current or former residents of Wisconsin.

Specifically, Bookwala is seeking to assess the impact of midlife divorce on psychosocial well-being and health and to evaluate the extent to which that impact varies as a function of gender, social support, and post-divorce marital trajectory.

“The proposed research on the impact of midlife divorce is both timely and significant because of the gradual but steady increase in recent decades of the rate of dissolution of long-term marriages and because we know little specifically about the impact of marital dissolution that occurs in midlife or later,” she says.

Bookwala anticipates that at least one student will join her in this research and hopes that it will inspire him or her to pursue graduate studies and careers in gerontology, the psychology of aging.

“Through this research, the student will learn about life course models of aging/development; the impact of life transitions and life events on one’s health in the middle and late adulthood years; and how one’s context, gender, life stage, and social support network shapes one’s life experiences and the consequences of stressful life events,” she explains.

Bookwala will survey three waves of graduates of Wisconsin high schools separated by a period of years who have experienced midlife marital dissolution and divorce and analyze her findings using various methods of statistical analysis.

She expects her research to inform her teaching as she discusses the role of relationships in the lives and well-being of middle-aged and older adults in her courses on development and aging and her Values and Science/Technology course on eternal youth and immortality.

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