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Intergenerational flows of support between parents and adult children in Britain

Understanding patterns of intergenerational support is critical within the context of demographic change, such as changing family structures and population ageing. Existing research has focused on intergenerational support at a given time in the individuals' lifecourse, e.g. from adult children towards older parents and vice versa; however, few studies have focused on the dynamic nature of such support. Analysing data from the 1958 National Child Development Study, this paper investigates the extent to which the receipt of parental help earlier in the lifecourse affects the chances of adult children reciprocating with support towards their parents later in life. The findings show that three-quarters of mid-life adults had received some support from their parents earlier in life, and at age 50 more than half were providing care to their parents. Patterns of support received and provided across the lifecourse differ markedly by gender, with sons being more likely to have received help with finances earlier in the lifecourse, and daughters with child care. The results highlight that care provision towards parents was associated with support receipt earlier in life. However, the degree of reciprocity varies according to the type of care provided by children. Such findings have implications for informal care provision by adult children towards future cohorts of older people, and by extension, the organisation of social care.

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Type of Reference
Type of Work
Journal article
Cambridge University Press
Publication Year
Issue Number
Journal Titles
Ageing and Society
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