Reciprocity in parent-child exchange and life satisfaction among the elderly: A cross-national perspective

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This study explores the role of intergenerational exchange relationships in the life satisfaction of a cross-national sample of older people. Specifically, it replicates and extends the study by Lee, Netzer, and Coward (1995), which examined the effects of aid exchanged between generations-older parents and their adult children. Social exchange and equity theories serve as the theoretical frameworks for the present research. The current research is based on data collected in the OASIS cross-national five countries project from 1,703 respondents (75+) living in urban settings. The main results are that the capacity to be an active provider in exchange relations enhances elders' life satisfaction. Being mainly a recipient of help from adult children is related to a lower level of life satisfaction. Filial norms are negatively related to life satisfaction. The study also underscores the importance of the emotional component in intergenerational family relations to the well-being of the older population. Intergenerational family bonds reflect a diversity of forms related to individual, familial, and social structural characteristics. The research highlights the importance of reciprocity in intergenerational relations between older parents and their adult children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)865-883
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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