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Journal Article

Do Close Parent-Child Relations Reduce the Mortality Risk of Older Parents?

Merril Silverstein and Vern L. Bengtson
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 32, No. 4 (Dec., 1991), pp. 382-395
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137105
Page Count: 14
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Do Close Parent-Child Relations Reduce the Mortality Risk of Older Parents?
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Abstract

This analysis examines the association between affectional solidarity in older parent-child relationships, and the parents' length of survival over a 14-year interval. It is hypothesized that close intergenerational relations have the capacity to reduce pathogenic stress among elderly parents, thereby enhancing their ability to survive. Direct and buffering effects of affectional solidarity, as expressed by 439 elderly parents, are tested using data from the U.S.C. Longitudinal Study of Generations collected between 1971 and 1985. Buffering effects are examined in the context of social decline and social loss experienced by the older parent. Hazard regression models indicate that greater intergenerational affect increases survival time among parents who experienced a loss in their social network, particularly among those who were widowed less than five years. Neither a direct effect of affection nor a buffering effect in the presence of social decline were found. It is concluded that the mortal health risks associated with the stress of being widowed can be partially offset by affectionate relations with adult children.

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