Contacts with Adult Children and Subjective Wellbeing in Later Life: Do Migrants and Natives Differ across Europe?

Helga A. G. De Valk , NIDI/Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Bruno Arpino, University of Florence
Valeria Bordone, University of Vienna

Previous studies have demonstrated, on the one hand, an association between intergenerational relationships and life satisfaction and, on the other hand, differences in life satisfaction between migrants and natives. We examine similarities and differences in life satisfaction of older Europeans by migration background (whether born in the country of residence) across four European regions and intergenerational solidarity. We question how and to what extent associational solidarity (contacts) between older parents and adult children is related to life satisfaction (as an indicator of subjective well-being (SWB) in later life and how this may have a differential effect by migrant status. Using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (waves 2, 4, 5, 6) we model the role of contact and distance including the interaction by migrant status. Our results show that the lower the frequency of contacts with adult children, the lower the life satisfaction of the elderly parent. Our findings hold in the same way and to the same extent for both among migrant and non-migrant older parents. Parents (either mother or father) with no contact to their children show the lowest levels of life satisfaction, and even significantly below the life satisfaction of those older persons who are childless. This negative effect of no contact is stronger for migrant origin parents and especially women. Further steps will consider geographical proximity, number of children and grandparental childcare as additional explanatory variables that might show differential effects on life satisfaction between those of migrant and non- migrant origin in later life.

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 Presented in Session 88. Linked Lives: Grandparents, Parents, and Children