Intergenerational proximity as resource for well-being at older ages

Marieke van der Pers, University of Groningen
Clara H. Mulder, University of Groningen
Nardi Steverink, University of Groningen

Geographic proximity is the strongest predictor of support exchange among family members and seems to contribute to feelings of security as well. This study focuses on the function of adult children and especially having them living geographically close by. By doing so, we treat intergenerational proximity as a resource within the Social Production Function - Successful Ageing Theory. This theory enables us to conceptualize how and whether living in close proximity to adult children can be a significant contributor to well-being at older ages. We argue that under well-defined resource restrictions like living without a partner or being disabled, adult children may partly compensate for the lacking resources. We expect close proximity of one or more adult children to act positively on life satisfaction, where we expect older persons without a partner, and/or with disabilities but also men to benefit more from having children -living close by. Record linkage of register and survey data (POLS 2003) shows us that the presence of an adult child is only effective in a positive way when an older person lives together with a partner whereas intergenerational proximity has the strongest effect when an older person is disabled and living without a partner at the same time.

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Presented in Session 24: Intergenerational contact and proximity