Solidarity-conflict and ambivalence: Testing two conceptual frameworks and their impact on quality of life for older family members

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Objectives. The purpose of this study was to test empirically two major conceptualizations of parent-child relations in later adulthood - intergenerational solidarity-conflict and ambivalence paradigms - and their predictive validity on elders' quality of life using comparative cross-national data. Methods. Data were from a sample of 2,064 elders (aged 75 and older) from the five-country OASIS study (Old Age and Autonomy: The Role of Service Systems and Intergenerational Family Solidarity; Norway, England, Germany, Spain, and Israel). Multivariate and block-recursive regression models estimated the predictivity of the two conceptualizations of family dynamics on quality of life controlling for country, personal characteristics, and activity of daily living functioning. Results. Descriptive analyses indicated that family solidarity, especially the affective/cognitive component (called Solidarity A), was high in all five countries, whereas conflict and ambivalence were low. When I entered all three constructs into the regression Solidarity A, reciprocal intergenerational support and ambivalence predicted quality of life. Controlling for activity of daily living functioning, socioeconomics status, and country, intergenerational relations had only a weak explanatory power, and personal resources explained most of the variance. Discussion. The data suggest that the three constructs exist simultaneously but in varying combinations, confirming that in cross-cultural cXontexts family cohesion predominates, albeit with low degrees of conflict and ambivalence. The solidarity construct evidenced relatively robust measurement. More work is required to enhance the ambivalence measurement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S100-S107
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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