Motivation for In-Kind Assistance Adult Children Provide Parents

Donald Cox, Boston College

When adult children provide care for aging parents, they often incur psychic and monetary costs. While the nature of parent care and the profile of care giving children are well known, we still lack insight into why adult children undertake parent care without compensation or compulsion. In this paper, we exploit a novel, direct- question approach using data from an experimental module from the 2000 Health and Retirement Study. This module consisted of questions on perceived motivations for assisting parents. Preliminary analysis indicated that transfers are often influenced by perceived family pressure and familial norms of obligation. In this paper we extend our previous research by (1) deriving a scoring algorithm of the 3 orthogonal domains of (i) self-esteem; (ii) obligation; and, (iii) parental relations from the 20 "point-blank" items; and (2) evaluating the predictive validity of the indexes in a model predicting subsequent care giving behaviors.

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Presented in Session 12: Generational Exchanges and Relationships