Intergenerational Support and Parental Health in Later Life

Kathryn M. Yount, Emory University
Solveig Argeseanu Cunningham, Emory University
Neil Mehta, Emory University

Two research questions motiviate our analysis: Does support to children influence the health of older parents? And, do declines in parents’ health influence support from children? Data come from the RAND Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) Family Data File and HRS File, with harmonized variables for 1998, 2000, and 2002. ~15,000 parents >=50 years in 1998 are included. Analyses reveal considerable within-parent variation over time in intergenerational financial and instrumental support and parents' cognitive, mental, and self-rated health. One quarter report changes in their provision of childcare and financial support across waves, and in children’s performance of chores and errands for them. Half report changes in their self-rated health, and >40% showed changes in cognitive functioning and mental health across waves. We fit parental fixed- and random-effects models to estimate the effects of: downward support on parental mental, cognitive, and self-rated health, and parental health declines on support from children.

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Presented in Session 209: Family Influences on Health and Mortality