Do religious children care more and provide more care for older parents? A study of filial norms and behaviors across five nations

Daphne Gans, Merril Silverstein, Ariela Lowenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Religiosity has been largely overlooked by many studies on intergenerational support despite growing evidence to its significant role in shaping parent-child relationship. This study aims (1) to examine the congruence between commitment to eldercare and actual parental care in five countries; and (2) to investigate the role of religiosity in predicting the development of filial norms and the enactment of such norms to actual supportive behavior toward parents. Latent class analyses (LCA) and logistic regression analyses were performed using a sub-sample from the Role of Old Age Service Systems and Intergenerational Family Solidarity (OASIS) study, a nationally representative sample of four European countries (Norway, England, Spain, and Germany) and Israel (N=2,327). LCA demonstrated that the most frequent class across all countries (46%) was the committed-supporters, reporting high filial norms and a high probability of exhibiting filial behavior. The next most frequent class (31%) consisted of independent children, those weakly endorsing filial norms and unlikely to engage in supportive filial behavior. The final class (23%) consists of longdistance supporters-endorsing strong commitment for exchange of support and a strong likelihood of providing instrumental support without commitment to geographic proximity and without living close to parents. Logistic regression analyses show that non-religious adult children are more likely to be non-committed to and uninvolved in parental care; Very religious individuals were half as likely to belong to this independent group. Our results indicate that religiosity plays a significant role in shaping eldercare norms and behavior across countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-201
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cross-country comparison
  • Filial norms
  • Latent class analysis
  • Parental care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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