Parent-child relations among very old parents in Wales and the United States: A test of modernization theory

Merril Silverstein, Vanessa Burholt, G. Clare Wenger, Vern L. Bengtson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


This study contrasts the structure of parent-child relationships of older parents living in Wales, U.K. with those of older parents living in the United States. Specifically, we examine whether the principal dimensions of intergenerational solidarity, and their associations with each other, are invariant across two national cultures. Comparable measures are assessed from the responses of older parents participating in three surveys: Bangor Longitudinal Study of Ageing (N=139), USC Longitudinal Study of Generations (N=129), and AARP Study of Intergenerational Linkages (N=102). Overall, there were fewer differences than expected among the samples. Although proximity and contact with adult children were higher among older parents in the Wales sample, there were no appreciable differences in emotional closeness and receipt of help. However, there was a significantly higher correspondence between proximity and emotional closeness among Welsh parents than among both samples of American parents, suggesting that parents in North Wales forge more intimate ties with local children. Moreover, older Welsh parents were more likely than older parents in the American samples to receive help from children who were both proximate and emotionally close. The results are interpreted in terms of the greater importance that neolocality plays in promoting intergenerational integration within more traditional cultures and more rural societies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-409
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy


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