Financial Transfers to Husbands’ and Wives’ Elderly Mothers in Mexico: Do Couples Exhibit Preferential Treatment by Lineage?

Claire M. Noel-Miller, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Rania Tfaily, Carleton University

This study extends research on differences by lineage in elderly parents’ receipt of assistance from adult children to the Mexican context. We examine couples’ preferential allocation of financial transfers to a husband or a wife’s elderly mother. The analysis differentiates between mothers’ financial and physical needs. In addition, we consider the effect of transfers by siblings of each marital partner to their respective mothers on the couple’s choice of a recipient for their financial gift. We find evidence of competition for financial assistance between mothers, with only few couples providing assistance to both. In contrast to previous research in the U.S., we show that mid-life Mexican couples disproportionately favor husbands’ mothers when faced with mothers’ financial needs. However, results indicate that couples exhibit greater financial responsiveness to wives’ mothers’ needs for personal assistance. Our analysis uncovers strong effects of help from siblings on couples’ transfers to a partner’s own mother.

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Presented in Session 156: Generational Exchanges and Relationships: Adult-Children and Elderly Parents