Parental Support during Young Adulthood: Why Does Assistance Decline with Age?

Caroline Sten Hartnett, University of Pennsylvania
Frank F. Furstenberg, University of Pennsylvania
Karen Fingerman, Purdue University

Previous research has found that financial support from parents to young adult children declines with age and that age is one of the strongest predictors of support. We explore the possibility that age is acting as a proxy for other factors that change as offspring grow older, including parental characteristics, offspring’s needs, acquisition of adult social roles, increasing maturity, and geographical and emotional closeness. We find that the age-support pattern cannot be fully explained by any of these factors, though age does work through them to some extent. In particular, status transitions (moving away from home and marrying) are important in determining the frequency of support, while the needs of offspring are important in determining the value of support. We also explore age interactions and find that the negative effect of age is softened for offspring who are parents themselves and for offspring who consider themselves less successful than peers.

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Presented in Session 184: Family and Intergenerational Aspects of the Transition to Adulthood