Parental Separation and Intergenerational Support

Anna Manzoni , North Carolina State University
Sergi Vidal, Centre for Demographic Studies

In this paper, we investigate the relationship between parental separation and support between parents and adult children in Germany. We contribute to the literature by providing a comprehensive account of the types of support (i.e. material, instrumental, and emotional) and the direction of provision (i.e. giving and receiving support), separately for mother and fathers. We also assess whether these associations are moderated by the timing (in terms of child’s age) at which separation occurred, and social background (proxied by parental education). We use rich longitudinal data of a representative sample of three birth cohort groups (1971/73, 1981/83, 1991/93) from eight waves of the German Family Panel (pairfam, 2008-2015). We estimate multiple support outcomes simultaneously, deploying logistic regression models and controlling for typical confounders of the study associations. Our results show that parental separation negatively affects support between parents and adult children. As an exception, mothers who separated (from fathers) do not give less childcare support and do receive more material support (i.e. money or gifts) from their children than mothers who stayed together with fathers. We find no relevance of age at separation for intergenerational support between adult children and mothers. Interestingly, the negative effect of parental separation for intergenerational support between adult children and fathers is reduced if parents separated when children were adults. Further, support between adult children and separated mothers is stronger with higher levels of maternal education. In the next stage, we will empirically address the mechanism that explain these associations.

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 Presented in Session P2. Poster Session Ageing, Health and Mortality