Intergenerational Exchange and Psychological Well-being

I-Fen Lin, Bowling Green State University and University of California, Los Angeles

Numerous studies have documented the patterns of intergenerational exchange in the United States. Yet relatively little is known about the consequences of exchange. Are older parents better off because of the receipt of support from their children? Or do they become depressed because of the loss of autonomy by depending on their children’s support? Prior research has shown mixed evidence. Some researchers found a positive association between intergenerational exchange and older parents’ psychological well-being; others found a negative association; and still others found no association. The inconclusive evidence is likely attributable to theoretical confusion, data constraints, and inadequate analytic strategies. In this paper, I will overcome these limitations by using the Health and Retirement Study to examine the psychological consequences of intergenerational exchange for older parents over time.

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Presented in Session 166: Insights on Family Transfers to Elderly Parents: A Cross-National Perspective