Family Intergenerational Transfers to Provide Long-Term Care: Why Do Families Differ from Each Other?

John C. Henretta, University of Florida
Beth Soldo, University of Pennsylvania

Intergenerational transfers occur within a family context, but most research on the topic focuses on attributes and behaviors of individual kin and not on family environment itself, including each family’s variant on the norms of kinship. We use four waves of the Health and Retirement Study to examine the effect of family transfer culture on the probability of adult children providing care to their frail mothers. We measure the family transfer culture with two indicators of family exchanges in previous generations: one, whether the elderly mother’s family received help from kin when she was growing up; and, two, whether the elderly mother lived with her grandmother when she was a child. We find that the first indicator of family culture has a positive, significant association on the child’s provision of personal care. We also show that stepchildren raised outside the family culture have a markedly weaker commitment to step-mothers.

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Presented in Session 35: Family and Health Over the Life Course