The intergenerational transmission of loneliness between parents and their adult children
Keywords:Adult children, intergenerational transmission, gender differences, loneliness, parent-child relationship, German Soci-Economic Panel, SOEP
Objective: This study examined the relationship between loneliness in parents and in their adult children, and took into account the role of gender differences in the intergenerational transmission of loneliness.
Background: Although it is well documented that loneliness has negative effects on a person’s physical and mental health, only a relatively small number of empirical studies have investigated the intergenerational transmission of loneliness between parents and their children, including the potential long-term effects of transmission processes. Moreover, the findings of the few existing studies have been inconsistent and contradictory, particularly with regard to gender differences.
Method: The statistical analysis drew on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP). Based on data from 2013 and 2017, stepwise multilevel linear regression models were estimated for 4,457 respondents between the ages of 18 and 40 and their parents.
Results: Significant associations were found between loneliness in parents and in their adult children. The analysis also revealed that the relationship between loneliness in mothers and in their children did not depend on whether mothers and children were living in the same household. However, no significant differences were found between same-sex and opposite-sex parent-child dyads.
Conclusion: This study provided moderate evidence for the intergenerational transmission of loneliness between parents and their adult children, as well as indirect evidence for the long-term effects of transmission processes between mothers and children.