Life Events and the Boundaries of Midlife for Women

  • Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
  • Barbara Kirsh
Part of the Women in Context: Development and Stresses book series (WICO)


The difficulty of studying midlife in women is illustrated dramatically by the above statement. Midlife typically is characterized as a transitory rather than as a distinct phase of the life cycle. As a phase defined primarily by the end of youth, it is accorded little importance in developmental conceptualizations, in literature, or in the media. Midlife also is defined as the time to prepare for old age and death, the time when one begins to count forward rather than backward (in terms of years to live rather than years lived). This view is reflected in research methodologies that relate behavior in midlife to outcomes in old age. Midlife adjustment, sexuality, satisfaction, and health are considered possible predictors of adjustment to old age but are rarely considered outcomes of earlier behavior (see, as a notable exception, the Berkeley and Oakland growth studies; Eichorn, Clausen, Haan, Honzik, and Mussen, 1981).


Life Satisfaction Referent Group Life Phase Teenage Parent Baby Boom Generation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
    • 1
  • Barbara Kirsh
    • 1
  1. 1.Educational Testing ServicePrincetonUSA

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