Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Erin Ruel

Second Advisor

Heying Zhan

Third Advisor

Candace Kemp


Increasingly, computer and Internet usage play a vital role in connecting individuals to the larger society. Many factors may influence computer ownership and frequency of Internet usage by retired older adults. This thesis applies two theoretical frameworks, Cumulative Inequality theory and Intergenerational Solidarity theory, to explore major factors that may influence retired older adults' computer ownership and their frequency of Internet usage. Special attention will be paid to issues of social inequality: including retirement status (respondent and spouse), availability of an employer-paid pension (respondent and spouse), accumulated wealth, income, educational attainment, and employer-paid health insurance (respondent and spouse). In addition, this thesis will explore issues of intergenerational solidarity, specifically, number of children and number of children living in the household in relation to computer ownership and Internet usage, in particular. This study uses the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) data that were collected through phone surveys that were conducted in 2004.