Parental separation and intergenerational support
Keywords:pairfam, Germany, material support, emotional support, instrumental support
Objective: We investigate support between parents and adult children across families exposed and not exposed to parental separation in Germany, by examining multiple types of support (i.e. emotional, material, and instrumental), both directions of provision (i.e. giving and receiving), and exchanges with mothers and fathers.
Background: As parental separation may have implications for parent-child relationships and exchanges, with consequences for individuals' wellbeing, improving our understanding of the association between separation and support exchanges becomes paramount.
Method: Using data from the German Family Panel (pairfam, 2009-2016, N=4,340 respondents and 13,481 observations), we estimate a range of support exchanges between parents and children simultaneously using generalized linear regression models with correlated random terms across equations. Additionally, we assess whether these associations vary by the timing at which parental separation occurred and social background.
Results: Parental separation is negatively associated with support between parents and children, especially for fathers. However, no significant differences emerge between mothers who separated and mothers who did not in receiving material support from their children. The negative associations between parental separation and support between child and fathers are lower if parental separation occurs when the child is an adult. Further, when mothers are highly educated, separation has a less negative association with downward material support.
Conclusion: Overall, lower intergenerational assistance among families experiencing separation suggests increasing disadvantage for those already disadvantaged.
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