Norms of Filial Responsibility for Aging Parents across Time and Generations

Daphna Gans, University of southern California
Merril Silverstein, University of Southern California

This investigation examines the normative expectation that adult children should be responsible for the care of their aging parents, and how this norm changes over the adult life-span, across several decades of historical time, in relation to generational position in families, and between successive generations. Analyses were performed using four waves of data from the USC Longitudinal Study of Generations between 1985 and 2000. A three-level hierarchical linear model was estimated using 4,527 observations from 1,627 individuals nested within 333 families. Results reveal that filial norms weakened after midlife, in response to parental death, and over historical time, yet strengthened in later-born generations. Findings are discussed in terms of the malleability of filial responsibility over the life course.

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Presented in Session 12: Generational Exchanges and Relationships