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Please read and accept the terms and conditions and check the box to generate a sharing link. This paper uses data from the Midlife in the United States survey and the — National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project to examine age-heterogenous partnerships at older ages 63 was the approximate average age of each sample. On most measures of life satisfaction and relationship well-being, individuals in age-heterogenous partnerships—regardless of age or gender—were not very different from their counterparts in age-homogenous relationships.

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Some differences did emerge, however, especially related to sexual well-being. Women partnered to older men had less sex and more issues related to sexual satisfaction than their counterparts in age-homogenous relationships. Latent class analyses suggest that these differences were driven by around 40 percent of younger women partnered to older men, a minority of whom were deeply dissatisfied. This research helps address the underrepresentation of sexuality research at older ages and the sociological research gap about age-heterogenous partnerships.

This skit was the culmination of popular interest in daddies in recent years. Representations on SNL and in these news articles explicitly tie being a daddy to having and exercising financial leverage. Other articles, such as one in the Washington Postdiscuss how and why people refer to men as daddies Deweywhich does not necessarily reflect a class difference between a daddy and his admirer.

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Daddy has had a sexual meaning for centuries, though that exact meaning has differed by context, population, and era Farhi While socially validated sexual fetishization of older men may be more common among gay men Albothere are also many straight men who are daddies and straight women who yearn for them—with or without financial benefits. Differential coverage of daddies and cougars reflects gender inequalities: It is rarer for women than men to be considered desirable as they age, and there is more stigma attached to woman-older relationships than man-older relationships Alarie ab ; Warren While many consider it appropriate and desirable for older men to pursue younger women, the same is generally not true for women, and there are misconceptions and stigmas about women who partner with younger men Alarie b.

Despite popular interest in daddies, there is little academic examination of age-heterogenous partnerships or individuals in them. The current paper considers how and to what extent individuals in age-heterogenous partnerships differ from those in age-homogenous partnerships about gender attitudes and relationship satisfaction, including that related to sex and how often partners disagree about relationship issues. While the cannot determine causality, they highlight the extent to which individuals in age-heterogenous relationships are distinct or not from their counterparts, which in turn has implications for understanding relationship inequality and characteristics of uncommon but highly visible and often misunderstood partnerships.

While some individuals describe themselves as daddies or cougars, for others these labels have negative meanings. To avoid terminology that some may find offensive and to use language that is as straightforward as possible, this paper uses the terms men partnered to younger women instead of daddy and women partnered to younger men instead of cougar as well as women partnered to older men and men partnered to older women.

Relatedly, this research cannot examine identification as a daddy or cougar, given that the surveys did not ask that sadly, no representative surveys dobut it can examine the characteristics of individuals in age-heterogenous partnerships. This paper specifically focuses on individuals at older ages, both to help correct the underrepresentation of older individuals in gender and sexuality research and to examine age-heterogenous partnerships past ages typically represented in the media.

This paper also adds to the relatively sparse literature on age-heterogenous partnerships in the United States, since much prior research has examined western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Korea, or Taiwan. When discussing relationships, this paper uses the terms age heterogenous and age homogenous to refer to partnerships with substantial age gaps or no substantial age gaps, respectively, as well as age concordant to refer to individuals in age-homogenous partnerships.

It also uses the terms man-older and woman-older to refer to gender arrangements within these relationship types. For instance, man-older refers to relationships in which men are substantially older than their woman partner, not relationships in which men are older than their woman partner by any age. Scholars use markedly different cutoff points for what constitutes an age-heterogenous relationship, and these often differ by gender; there is little consistency in the literature.

This paper measures age-heterogenous relationships as those in which either partner is 10 or more years older than his or her partner, though other studies have used different cutoff points as the next section details. In most countries, including the United States Feighanage-heterogenous relationships have declined in frequency. Fairly steep declines have occurred with man-older relationships, while woman-older relationships have increased slightly: Considering age gaps of at least eight years in the United States, census data show that man-older relationships declined from These changes may be part of a larger pattern of changing relationship norms e.

Fairly few differences in physical and mental health exist between individuals in age-heterogenous and age-homogenous unions Choi and Vasunilashornthough levels of cognitive ability and interviewer-rated attractiveness differ. In terms of physical and mental health, the to and to Wisconsin Longitudinal Study show few overall differences between individuals in age-heterogenous and age-homogenous relationships, those in which the husband is 12 or more years older than his wife or the wife is 4 or more years older than her husband Choi and Vasunilashorn At the same time, widowed respondents who were ly in an age-heterogenous relationship had somewhat worse mental health than their widowed counterparts who had been in age-homogenous relationships Choi and Vasunilashorn However, the to Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging shows that depressive symptoms are higher for men and women in marriages in which the wife is older than the husband Kim, Park, and Lee In contrast, men younger than their wife had higher mortality rates than men about the same age as their wife but lower rates if they were older than their wife Drefahl Why these trends exist is unclear.

Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth indicates that men at least eight years older or younger than their wife have ificantly lower cognitive ability than men married to women around the same age Mansour and McKinnish Additionally, data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health show that men five or more years older than their wife were ificantly less attractive as determined by interviewers than those who married a woman around the same age, whereas women who married men at least five years older had ificantly higher measures of body mass index in high school Mansour and McKinnish Importantly, attractiveness is socially constructed and differs across cultures and time periods Travis, Meginnis, and Bardari ; Wolfso these findings should be evaluated with caution.

Reasons why cognitive abilities may differ are discussed later, in the Earnings and Education section. Few data exist on measures of relationship satisfaction within age-heterogenous and age-homogenous partnerships. The to longitudinal Household, Income, and Labor Dynamics in Australia study shows that both men and women are more satisfied when they have younger spouses but that marital satisfaction declines more over time among individuals in relationships with age gaps Lee and McKinnish Similarly, a representative survey of Hong Kong shows that husbands who were two to four years older than their wife had higher relationship satisfaction than men about the same age as their wife, whereas husbands five or more years younger than their wife had lower relationship satisfaction and lower satisfaction with their sex lives Zhang, Ho, and Yip Women younger than their husband had higher sexual satisfaction than women around the same age as their husband Zhang et al.

While intriguing, little is known about relationship satisfaction or sexual satisfaction by partnership type in the United States. Overall, individuals in age-heterogenous partnerships whether men or women, older or younger have lower incomes and rates of educational attainment, on average, than individuals in age-homogenous relationships, and this is evident across multiple Western countries Dribe and Nystedt ; Feighan ; Gustafson and Fransson ; Mansour and McKinnish Education and earnings differences are more about individuals than the partnerships they form.

In other words, individuals who are likelier to have lower incomes and educational attainment are also likelier to enter into age-heterogenous partnerships Dribe and Nystedt ; Mansour and McKinnish ; Oksuzyan et al. At the same time, Census and American Community Survey ACS data show that among full-time workers, the median spousal income gap was greater in marriages in which the husband was older than his wife, whereas the gap was lowest in marriages in which the wife was older than her husband Feighan This is a shift from prior years: ly, British and U.

Census data suggested that the probability of being in a marriage in which the wife is at least five years older than the husband increased if the wife had more education and income than her husband Coles and Francesconi Despite some inconsistent findings, most research indicates that individuals in age-heterogenous partnerships—regardless of age or gender—are likelier to have lower education and earnings than their age-homogenous counterparts.

Transnational processes and race are also tied to age-related partnering practices.

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Using the to ACS, Balistreri, Joyner, and Kao found that citizenship status was related to age gaps between partners, particularly for women. Immigrant women who married a U. Gaps between immigrant women and immigrant men were much smaller, as were gaps between immigrant men and either citizen or immigrant wives. This strongly suggests that nationality is being exchanged for youth, and in gendered ways see also Levchenko and Solheim Relatedly, census and ACS data show that while the odds of being in an age-heterogenous marriage lowered for most groups over the past century, the odds actually increased for Asian women Feighan They also show that being in age-heterogenous unions was greater for black-white or Asian-white relationships compared to same-race unions, and for black and Latino men compared to white men such that they had higher odds of having an older wife Feighan Overall, there are clear differences in the odds of entering into age-heterogenous partnerships based on immigrant status and race.

These reflect broader patterns of inequality regarding intersections of gender, race, and national origin.

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Data from the U. Census and the ACS show that the odds of being in age-heterogenous unions are usually greater for people who are older and who remarry Feighanpatterns that are also evident in Spain, Sweden, and Britain Coles and Francesconi ; Esteve et al. Age heterogamy may increase with higher-order marriages because individuals are no longer in age-graded institutions, like higher education Mare This is gendered, however.

The effect of education or educational differences is fairly small compared to that of the age of the husband England and McClintock Overall, evidence shows that women are devalued when aging in ways men are not, explaining much of the difference in prevalence rates of man-older and woman-older relationships. Few studies have examined attitudinal characteristics of individuals in age-heterogenous partnerships.

Alarie and Carmichael conducted one of the only studies. They analyzed the National Survey of Family Growth, of women 15 to 44 in the United States, and found that liberal attitudes about stay-at-home mothers and the morality of unconventional consensual sexual activities were associated with a woman being 5 or 10 years older than a male sexual partner. Their suggest that women who are 5 or 10 years older than a male sexual partner are more liberal than their counterparts who sexually partner with men around their same age, whereas women who partnered with older men did not have ificantly different attitudes than women who partnered with men around their same age.

Their study examined only women and did so using a fairly old data source; I build on it to examine both men and women, using more recent data and in older ages. Few qualitative studies have examined individuals in age-heterogenous partnerships, but those that do suggest unique characteristics of individuals in them. Alarie a interviewed 55 women ages 30 to 60 who had dated men at least five years younger than them.

Other studies have suggested that individuals in man-older age-heterogenous relationships frame inequalities in their relationship as individual issues that are either relatively unproblematic or able to be resolved through relationship work that they have not yet donethereby leaving inequality intact McKenzie This suggests that individuals in man-older relationships may be more socially conservative than their counterparts, but this is an empirical question needing to be addressed.

Overall, there is a fairly sizable literature about the prevalence of age-heterogenous partnerships and how odds of being in them differ by gender, age, education, earnings, nationality, and marriage history. There is little, however, about the attitudes of individuals in these partnerships or of their measures of sex and relationship satisfaction, particularly in the United States.

These are the gaps this paper hopes to fill. This paper analyzes the 3, who participated in wave 3, of whom 1, had been recruited via random-digit dialing RDDwho were nontwin siblings of respondents, 1, who were twins, and who were part of a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, oversample. The sample is not nationally representative, but poststratification weights for the participants recruited via RDD were applied to make the more reflective of race, age, gender, and education in the October Current Population Survey.

Despite it not being nationally representative, it offers a greater variety of variables for analysis than NSHAP, the nationally representative survey. Of the final interviewed sample, 2, were in different-sex relationships; this is the subset this paper analyzes. Of women, 14 were partnered to younger men, 78 were partnered to older men, and 1, were partnered to men within 10 years of their own age. The age range of respondents ranged from 39 to 93, with a weighted mean of For shorthand, I use age concordants to describe people whose partners were fewer than 10 years older or younger than them.

Its first wave included individuals ages 57 to 85 in ; its second wave included original wave 1 respondents, their spouses or coresident partners, and when possible, nonresponders who were selected for wave 1. Wave 3 interviewed surviving members of wave 2 as well as a nationally representative sample of individuals born between and Weights make the generalizable to the older adult population of the United States. Of the final interviewed sample, 2, were currently in different-sex relationships and had complete information about the age of their partner.

This included 1, men, of whom were partnered to younger women, 9 were partnered to older women, and 1, were age concordants; and 1, women, of whom 35 were partnered to younger men, 91 were partnered to older men, and 1, of whom were age concordants. The age range of respondents was 49 to 95, with a weighted mean of Race included white, black, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander, other, and Latinx; the vast majority of the sample, however, was white Relatedly, immigrant status was not measured.

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