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Has maternal contact declined? Evidence for seven countries, 1986-2001

Judith Treas, University of California, Irvine
Zoya Gubernskaya, University of California, Irvine

This paper speaks to the speculation that contemporary social and demographic forces are undermining intergenerational support for older adults. Drawing on unique data for seven countries from the International Social Survey Program, the analysis considers 1986-2001 changes in the frequency of adults’ face-to-face interaction and other contacts with their mothers. For visiting, the trend for absolute frequencies is mixed, but controlling for respondent characteristics, adults in all countries saw their mothers significantly more often in 2001 than in 1986. Also, there were widespread increases in their phone calls and written communication with mothers. There are changes in the links of individual characteristics and contact frequencies, such as the significantly negative relation of marriage and maternal visits that emerged between 1986 and 2001. In short, the findings are consistent with an increase, rather than a decline, in intergenerational support for the older generation.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Poster Session 4: health and ageing