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Factors That Predispose Middle-Aged Sons and Daughters to Provide Social Support to Older Parents

Merril Silverstein, Tonya M. Parrott and Vern L. Bengtson
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 57, No. 2 (May, 1995), pp. 465-475
DOI: 10.2307/353699
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353699
Page Count: 11
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Factors That Predispose Middle-Aged Sons and Daughters to Provide Social Support to Older Parents
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Abstract

In this article we examine gender differences in the factors that predispose middle-aged children to provide instrumental social support to their elderly parents. We address our research questions using data from 690 parent-child dyads participating in three waves of the Longitudinal Study of Generations. Structural equation models with lagged covariates are used to predict change in the volume of social support provided to parents, with tests of equivalence between sons and daughters. Our findings indicate that intergenerational affection is the factor that most motivates daughters to provide support, while filial obligation, legitimation of inheritance, and frequency of contact most motivate sons. We suggest that the discussion concerning altruistic, normative, and utilitarian explanations for why children provide support to older parents can be clarified by examining gender differences in the motives behind such behavior.

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