The COVID-19 pandemic and changes in the level of contact between older parents and their non-coresident children: A European study
Keywords:COVID-19, intergenerational contact, physical distancing, cross-national research, Europe, SHARE
Objective: The present study aims to investigate changes in the frequency of parent-child contact among Europeans aged 65 years and over within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, while recognizing heterogeneity within the group of older adults.
Background: Physical distancing measures have been implemented worldwide to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this policy has proven to be effective in flattening the curve, it undoubtedly posed a serious challenge to intergenerational relations. Experts hinted that physical distancing measures may have reduced older adults’ level of contact with their non-coresident children. However, empirical evidence is lacking.
Method: Data from the SHARE COVID-19 questionnaire and previous SHARE waves for 26,077 individuals from 26 European countries and Israel were used and analyzed using multilevel multinomial logistic regression analysis.
Results: The analysis revealed that older adults’ level of intergenerational contact remained stable or even increased – rather than decreased – during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the overall positive outcome, some subgroups (i.e., older men, residents of nursing homes, less educated older adults and older adults living in countries with less stringent COVID-19 measures) were more likely to report reduced intergenerational contact.
Conclusion: Although variation was observed among older adults, the pandemic generally did not pose a threat to their level of intergenerational contact with non-coresident children.