The Effects of Post-Retirement Marital Disruption on Intergenerational Exchanges, and the Obligations of Mid-Life Adult Children to Care

Joanna Sage, University of Southampton
Maria Evandrou, University of Southampton
Jane C. Falkingham, University of Southampton

This paper challenges the dominant thesis that parental divorce occurring during childhood has a greater detrimental effect on the obligations (adult) children feel to provide care for their parents in later life, than parental divorce which occurs later in the lifecourse during the child’s own adulthood. Drawing upon interviews with mid-life participants who have recently experienced disruption in their parent’s marriage, our findings highlight how parental retirement can unsettle marital dynamics, family relations and intergenerational exchange frameworks. We exemplify how the deterioration of marital relations in post-retirement couples has resulted in weakened relationships with their (adult) children, who have expressed diluted obligations to care for their parents as a result. We present these findings within the context of an increasing informal care-gap in the UK, and the complex intergenerational exchange frameworks of our ‘sandwich generation’ participants, outlining a clear critique of family-centric social care policy in the UK.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 5