Parental Marital Transitions and Instrumental Assistance Between Generations: A Within-Family Longitudinal Analysis

Adam Davey, David J. Eggebeen, Jyoti Savla

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The importance of variability both between and within families is receiving greater recognition. We set out to identify whether each child's unique experiences (transition, timing, duration) with parent's marital transitions predicted instrumental assistance using a life course perspective. We used longitudinal data from 2,087 parents, aged 50 and older, who reported on their 7,019 adult children in the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH). Population averaged logistic regression models predicting giving and receipt of instrumental assistance were estimated, accounting for the nested structure of the data. Results suggest that parents' marital transitions generally predict lower levels of support from parents to children, but greater levels of support from children to parents. Transitions that occur earlier in a child's life are less detrimental, whereas marital transitions that occur when children are adults tend to reduce support from parents to children. More distant transitions predicted a greater likelihood of support from fathers to children, but a lower likelihood of support from children to mothers. Experiences with parents' marital histories in childhood and adulthood predict current patterns of intergenerational support. The nature, timing, and duration of transitions as anchored in the life of each child affect support. While there are differences for mothers and fathers, effects of marital transitions are accounted for through their effects on needs and resources of each generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-242
Number of pages22
JournalAdvances in Life Course Research
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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