Household Moves Project: Research about downsizing possessions in later life

This is a current project.


The purpose of this study is to learn more about the work that older people go through to move out of one place and into another. There is a special interest in learning about how people make decisions about their possessions during such a move, particularly in how decisions are made about what items to keep, discard, give away, or sell. 

Why is it so hard to part with things?  Watch this TV commercial from the Ikea furniture company.

Project Administration

This research is a collaboration among social scientists at the University of Kansas, Wayne State University, and the University of Missouri.

David Ekerdt,
University of Kansas,
principal investigator

Mark Luborsky,
Wayne State University,
co-principal investigator

Cathy Lysack,
Wayne State University,
co-principal investigator

Jaber Gubrium,
University of Missouri,

Project Contact

David J. Ekerdt
Director, Gerontology Center
Professor of Sociology
University of Kansas
1000 Sunnyside Ave., Room 3090
Lawrence, KS 66045-7555
785-864-4130 (phone)
785-864-2666 (fax)

This is a project of:

KU Gerontology Center

Life Span Institute
In collaboration with :

Institute of Gerontology

Wayne State University

Wayne State University

University of Missouri

This research is supported by the National Institute on Aging.

A Senior Couple Moving

Publications and Presentations

Ekerdt, D.J., Sergeant, J.F., Dingel, M., & Bowen, M.E. (2004).  Household disbandment in later life.  Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 59B, S265-273. 

Ekerdt, D.J. & Sergeant, J.F.  (2006)  Family things: Attending the household disbandment of elders.  Journal of Aging Studies, 20, 193-205. 

Sergeant, J.F., & Ekerdt, D.J.  (2008).  Motives for residential mobility in later life: Post-move perspectives of elders and family members.  International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 66, 131-154. 

Ekerdt, D.J. (2009). Dispossession: The tenacity of things. In I.R. Jones, P. Higgs, & D.J. Ekerdt, (Eds). Consumption and generational change: The rise of consumer lifestyles and the transformation of later life (pp. 63-78). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

Smith, G.V, & Ekerdt, D.J. (2011). Confronting the material convoy in later life. Sociological Inquiry, 81, 377-391. (PMC3148717)

Ekerdt, D.J., Addington, A., & Hayter, B. (2011). Distributing possessions: Personal property can become a social matter. Generations, 35(3), 34-40. (PMC3381342)

Luborsky, M., Lysack, C., & van Nuil, J. (2011). Refashioning one's place in time: Stories of household downsizing in later life. Journal of Aging Studies, 25, 243-252.

Ekerdt, D.J., Luborsky, M., & Lysack, C. (2012). Safe passage of goods and self during residential relocation in later life. Ageing and Society, 32, 833-850.

Ekerdt, D.J. (2012, May). Too many things. Consumers, Commodities, and Consumption: Newsletter of the Consumer Studies Research Network, 13 (2).

Addington, A., & Ekerdt, D.J. (2014). The reproduction of gender norms through downsizing in later life residential relocation. Research on Aging, 36, 3-21.

Ekerdt, D.J., & Baker, L.A. (2014). The material convoy after age 50. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 69, 442–450

Ekerdt, D.J. (2015). Possessions as a material convoy. In J. Twigg & W. Martin (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology. London: Taylor & Francis.


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