Differences over Time in the Relationship between Family Disruptions and Support at Older Ages in Britain

Karen F. Glaser, King's College London
Cecilia Tomassini, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Rachel Stuchbury, King's College London

Despite long-standing concerns that changes in family behaviour (such as divorce) may have had a detrimental effect on support at older ages, there is little research on this topic. Employing comparable data from the 1988 British Retirement and Retirement Plans Survey (RS) and the 2001/2 British Household Panel Study (BHPS) we examined variations over time in the relationship between family disruption (due to divorce, separation, and death) and support (e.g. co-residence, help to and from, and contact with, children) in early old age in Britain. We explored whether changes in support were due to differences in the mix of individual attributes associated with the propensity to give and receive support (e.g. the percentage experiencing divorce) or to changes in the strength of relationship between explanatory variables and support outcomes (e.g. the effects of divorce). Our findings suggest that the negative effect of family disruption on support appears to be weakening over time.

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Presented in Session 11: Intergenerational Transfers to the Elderly