Short-Term Reciprocity in Late Parent-Child Relationships

By Leopold, Thomas; Raab, Marcel | Journal of Marriage and Family, February 2011 | Go to article overview

Short-Term Reciprocity in Late Parent-Child Relationships


Leopold, Thomas, Raab, Marcel, Journal of Marriage and Family


Long-term concepts of parent-child reciprocity assume that the amount of support given and received is only balanced in a generalized fashion over the life course. We argue that reciprocity in parent-child relationships also operates in the short term. Our analysis of short-term reciprocity focuses on concurrent exchange in its main upward and downward currencies, time and money. Fixed-effects models with data from SHARE (N = 8,816 dyads) revealed that within a family, parents gave financial transfers to those children who supported them with time transfers of help and care. Reciprocal patterns emerged most clearly if parents were highly dependent, received intense support, and had sufficient financial opportunities to reciprocate. We conclude that short-term reciprocity eases the burden of late parent-child relationships.

Key Words: ambivalence, cross-national research, families in middle and later life, intergenerational transfers, parent-child relations, reciprocity.

In Western economies, children can expect continuous financial support from their parents, who remain net givers after retirement and even at very old ages. Conversely, children provide several types of time transfers to their parents, ranging from occasional help with daily activities to hands-on care (Rossi & Rossi, 1990). As a result, we observe a variety of transfers in both directions that constitute an overall pattern of support exchange in two main currencies: time and money (Soldo & Hill, 1993).

Accounting for the observed patterns of intergenerational support exchange becomes increasingly important as demographic aging raises the prevalence of parents' old-age dependency (e.g., Harper, 2006). This increases the pressure on adult children, who are, next to spouses, the most reliable source of support for old and frail parents. How do intergenerational relationships develop under conditions of higher need, dependency, and burden?

Recent empirical studies have drawn on the concept of reciprocity to account for exchange patterns of intergenerational support (e.g., Grundy, 2005; Henretta, Hill, Li, Soldo, & Wolf, 1997; Lennartsson, Silverstein, & Fritzell, 2010; Lowenstein, Katz, & Gur-Yaish, 2007; Silverstein, Conroy, Wang, Giarrusso, & Bengtson, 2002). The main idea of reciprocity in parentchild relationships refers to long-term exchange: Adult children feel indebted to their old and frail parents, who supported them earlier, and use time transfers of help and care as repayments for the earlier parental investments (Hollstein & Bria, 1998). Some analysts, however, focused on short-term patterns of concurrent giving and receiving and labeled these patterns reciprocal, although it remains unclear why the observed behavior constitutes a reciprocal exchange and how it differs from long-term reciprocity (e.g., Albertini, Kohli, & Vogel, 2007; Brandt, Deindl, Haberkern, & Szydlik, 2008; Grundy, 2005; Lowenstein et al., 2007). A theoretical concept of short-term reciprocity in parent-child relationships has not been offered to date.

The present study aims to address this deficit. We outline a concept why reciprocity in parent-child relations operates not only longitudinally but also contemporaneously. Our analysis concentrates on the short-term dimension of reciprocity and the corresponding pattern of concurrent intergenerational exchange in its main upward and downward currencies, time and money. The key questions are as follows: Why can concurrent transfers be interpreted as reciprocal exchange? How can we identify shortterm reciprocity? Which factors determine these exchanges of time and money?

Data come from the first wave (2004) of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), including respondents from 12 countries. Because these countries represent different welfare regimes (Esping-Andersen, 1990; Ferrera, 1996) as contexts for intergenerational support exchange in families, SHARE allows for comparative analyses. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Short-Term Reciprocity in Late Parent-Child Relationships
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.