Differences in the social support transactions of White and Black adults were investigated using data from the 1987/88 National Survey of Families and Households. Multivariate models were estimated to identify differences between Whites and Blacks in the likelihood that they provided and received instrumental and emotional support. Most importantly, we examined, separately for men and women, variations in Black-White differences from mid-life to old age. Results indicated that, overall, Blacks were no more likely than Whites to provide and receive both types of social support. In fact, Black women were less likely than White women to provide instrumental support to others. However, in old age, Black women were more likely to receive instrumental support and about as likely as White women to provide such support. These findings suggest that when comparing the informal support activities of White and Black adults, race needs to be considered in the context of gender and stage of life.
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