Intergenerational Family Support Processes from Young Adulthood through Later Life: Do We Need a New National Survey?
Judith A. Seltzer, University of California, Los Angeles
The United States needs new survey data on intergenerational relationships due to the dramatic changes in parent-child and couple relationships that were not anticipated when many datasets were designed. Increases in nonmarital childbearing, instability of parents’ relationships and high rates of repartnering challenge conventional approaches to data collection on families. Large race-ethnic and socioeconomic differences in these changes and their impact on intergenerational support may contribute to inequality. A new study must collect data on household relationships and relationships among family members who live apart because most U.S. parents and adult offspring do not co-reside. The survey should obtain the timing of family transitions and include multiple cohorts because of differences in societal conditions that influence family experiences. A longitudinal design would show how parent-child relationships unfold over time and build on histories. I identify the dimensions of intergenerational ties to be measured and explain why existing data are inadequate.