Frequency of Maternal Visits and Other Contacts, 1986-2001: A Cross-National Analysis

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

There has long been speculation that demographic developments, such as fertility declines, could undermine intergenerational support and contact. Using 1986 and 2001 International Social Survey Program data for seven countries, this paper asks whether 1) adults’ visits with mother declined, 2) other maternal contacts (e.g., phone calls) declined, and 3) the association of individual factors with the frequency of maternal contact changed. Although other contacts generally increased across countries, trends in the frequency of maternal visits are mixed. Controlling for individual characteristics, however, there were significantly more visits in 2001 than in 1986 in all seven nations. Several variables underpinning kin contact (e.g., travel time to mother) moved in unfavorable directions, but other, unmeasured forces apparently worked to offset these factors. Although there was no significant change in the association of individual-level factors and maternal visits, education ceased to be a significant predictor of other contract between the two years.

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Presented in Session 108: Household Structure and Intergenerational Relationships in Historical and Comparative Perspective