Children’s Strains, Parents’ Pains? How Adult Children’s Union Dissolution Influences Older Parents’ Physical and Mental Health

Damiano Uccheddu , University of Louvain (UCLouvain)
Ruben van Gaalen, Statistics Netherlands/University of Amsterdam (Sociology)

Little research has so far dealt with the influence that children’s union dissolution can have on the health of their parents. How children’s individual and household characteristics – before and after the union dissolution – affect parents’ health is still an open question. After examining the association between children’s union dissolution and parental health, the main contribution of this study will be to investigate the intermediating role of children’s well-being. The study will address this knowledge gap by matching panel data from the Dutch component of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) with micro-level data from administrative sources (from Statistics Netherlands – CBS). Using a combination of panel data (on parents) and longitudinal administrative data (on children), the fixed-effects design we will present will be stronger than the designs that have been used before: (i) we will use three alternative outcome measures of health; (ii) we will consider longitudinal information about geographic proximity, family, and health histories of every SHARE respondent’s child and grandchild; (iii) we will consider sociodemographic factors of every children’s (ex-)partners. Our theoretical expectation is to find changes in children’s well-being – subsequent to their union dissolution – to explain at least part of the variance of the association between children’s union dissolution and parental health. Moreover, we expect to find a stronger detrimental effect on health when grandchildren are involved and living closer to the grandparent.

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 Presented in Session 54. Intergenerational Spillover Effects