Intergenerational solidarity and the structure of adult child - Parent relationships in American families

Merril Silverstein, Vern L. Bengtson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

460 Scopus citations

Abstract

The authors investigate the structure of intergenerational cohesion by examining social-psychological, structural, and transactional aspects of adult child - parent relations. The authors use latent class analysis to develop a typology based on three underlying dimensions of intergenerational solidarity: affinity, opportunity structure, and function. The same five types are found for relations with both mothers and fathers: tight-knit, sociable, intimate but distant, obligatory, and detached. Relationship types are also differentiated by sociodemographic characteristics; relations with fathers and divorced parents tended to have the weakest cohesion. The authors conclude that adult intergenerational relationships in American families are structurally diverse but generally possess the potential to serve their members' needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-460
Number of pages32
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Volume103
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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