Intergenerational Relations and Support

Intergenerational Relations and Support

Cornell Institute for the Social SciencesWorkshop:

Intergenerational Relations and Support

December 2, 2005

ISS Conference Room – 146 Myron Taylor Hall

(Revised 11/29/05)

Who cares for society's young and old? How are values transmitted from one generation to another? How do family processes, changing demographics, and policies affect the relationships and exchange of resources between generations? These are some of the questions that will be addressed at the Workshop on Intergenerational Relations and Support. The workshop's goal is to bring together a small group of researchers from diverse disciplines and perspectives to discuss the ways in which intergenerational support and relations are affected by biology, social changes (norms, family structure change, etc.), and policy.

Date: December 2, 2005


Evolving Family Theme Project


Douglas Wolf, Syracuse University

Donald Cox, Boston College

RachelDunifon, Cornell

Laura Argys, University of Colorado at Denver

Stephen Emlen, Cornell

Karl Pillemer, Cornell

Norella Putney, University of Southern California

Mark Willhelm, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Judith Seltzer, UCLA

Cornell Institute for the Social SciencesWorkshop:

Intergenerational Relations and Support

December 2, 2005

ISS Conference Room – 146 Myron Taylor Hall

8:30 amBreakfast


9:00 – 9:10Welcome and Introduction to the Workshop

Elizabeth Peters, Evolving Family Project Leader

9:10 – 9:40“Intergenerational Support and Transfers: An Overview”

Douglas Wolf, SyracuseUniversity

This talk focuses on intergenerational flows of time, financial resources and (co)residential space among adults in the U.S. Although these flows occur between as well as within families, and have distinctive macro as well as microinfluences and consequences, the emphasishere is on within-family flows andthe micro perspective. The roles of family composition and public programs as factors influencing resource flowsare reviewed, along with major established findings, lingering methodological issues and selected areas for further research.

Session 1: Intergenerational Support to Children


9:40 – 10:10“Biological Basics and Grandmothers’ Support for Children”

Donald Cox, BostonCollege

In the 40-plus years since the publication of biologist W. D. Hamilton’s pioneering theory of kinship, this conceptual cornerstone of family behavior has not gotten nearly the attention it deserves in economics. What does “Hamilton’s rule” imply concerning intergenerational support for children? I argue that Hamilton’s rule provides considerable guidance for empirical studies of intergenerational support for children. I illustrate the potential usefulness of kinship theory with an empirical examination of differences in the provision of child care between maternal and paternal grandmothers.

10:10 – 10:40“The Influence of Grandparents in Single-Mother Families”

Rachel Dunifon, Cornell

This paper examines whether children living with single mothers benefit when they also live with a grandparent, using data from the 1979 to 2002 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth merged mother-child file that captures children's living arrangements over their entire lifetimes. Results indicate that, in some instances, children living with a single mother and a grandparent fare better than those living with a single mother alone, but that the associations between living arrangements and child outcomes differ depending on the race of the child. For white children, living with a single mother and grandparent is associated with increased cognitive stimulation and higher reading recognition scores, compared to living with a single mother alone. For black children, grandparent coresidence is associated with less cognitive stimulation and lower math scores, but higher reading scores, compared to living with a single mother alone.

10:40 – 11:10“Have Families Become the New Safety Net? An Examination of the Receipt of Kin Support, Child Support, and Welfare”

Laura Argys, University of Colorado at Denver

Welfare reform legislation enacted in 1996 translated into a series of important changes to the welfare program in the United States. Expectations of a publicly provided lifetime safety net vanished after the introduction of work requirements for recipients and a 5-year (or less) lifetime limit on welfare receipt. In an effort to shift support from the state to parents, this (and earlier) reform efforts included comprehensive measures to improve child support collection for children with a non-residential parent.
Families and communities were called upon to provide assistance to those in need as policymakers limited the availability of public assistance. The central question addressed in this paper is “to what extent do private transfers augment shrinking welfare benefits?” The answer to this question is crucial in an era of binding welfare constraints. In this paper we investigate the relationship between intergenerational family transfers (specifically kin support and child support from a non-residential parent) and welfare.


11:10 – 11:25Stephen Emlen, Cornell

11:25 – 11:55Discussion


Session 2: Intergenerational Relations


12:55 – 1:25"Exploring Within-Family Differences in Intergenerational Support."

Karl Pillemer, CornellUniversity

Over the past threedecades, researchers have explored the extent of intergenerational exchange and the conditions under which it occurs. However, one factor central to understanding these processes has been neglected: within-family differences in support provision. Addressing within-family variation is critical because support between dyads within the same family may differ markedly. I use data collected from 556 mothers ages 65-75 who provided detailed information about their relationships with 2200 adult children to examine causes and consequences of within-family variation in intergenerational support and caregiving.

1:25 – 1:55“Connections across Generations: The intergenerational transmission of values and religiosity”

Norella Putney, University of Southern California

Drawing from the 35-year Longitudinal Study of Generations (LSOG), two studies examining the intergenerational transmission of values and religiosity are presented. The LSOG is a study of linked members from some 350 three- and four-generation families. The first study uses a generational sequential design and parent/child dyads to investigate intergenerational influences on youth’s educational aspiration and values (individualism and materialism), and the effects of parental divorce and maternal employment on these transmission processes. Using grandparent/parent/grandchild triads, the second study examines how grandparents influence their grandchildren’s religions beliefs and behaviors across three decades.

1:55 – 2:25“Exchange, Role Modeling and the Intergenerational Transmission of Elder Support Attitudes: Evidence from Three Generations of Mexican-Americans”

Mark Willhelm, IndianaUniversity-PurdueUniversityIndianapolis

Social exchange theory and role modeling offer alternative explanations of how the willingness to provide intergenerational assistance is transmitted from one generation to the next. Because both perspectives lead to very similar predictions, and because data sufficiently rich to examine both possibilities within a single model are extremely rare, there have been few attempts to verify whether intergenerational assistance patterns are consistent with either of these theories. In this paper we argue that the two perspectives can be distinguished because direct reciprocity is a necessary condition for an exchange theoretic interpretation. We then estimate models of young adults’ elder support attitudes using data from a survey of three generations of Mexican-Americans. The results provide at best weak evidence of direct reciprocity. Rather, the results are consistent with a role model explanation of the transmission of intergenerational assistance attitudes, particularly for young men. Moreover, there is evidence of the effectiveness of other socialization mechanisms, though the data do not permit the identification of these mechanisms. Although the selective nature of the sample we use dictates more than the usual caution when evaluating the results, our findings shed new light on the fundamental mechanisms undergirding intergenerational assistance.


2:25 – 2:40Judith Seltzer, UCLA

2:40 – 3:10 Discussion

3:10 – 3:20Break

Session 3: Round Table Discussion and Wrap-up

3:20– 4:20Round Table Discussion

Elizabeth Peters, Cornell

4:20 – 4:30Wrap-up and Thanks

Elaine Wethington, Cornell

4:30 – 5:45Break

5:45Drive to Renée’s Restaurant (115 South Quarry St., Ithaca; 607-277-4047)*

*Speakers staying at the Statler Hotel will be picked up in the hotel lobby by Maureen Waller and Liz Peters.

6:00 – ?Dinner at Renée’s Restaurant (115 South Quarry St., Ithaca; 607-277-4047)