Study Finds Divorce Negatively Affects How Much Care Child will give Elderly Parent

Mon Sep 17, 2007 - 12:15 pm EST

PHILADELPHIA, September 17, 2007 ( - A new study has found that divorce, even when the kids are older, can have negative affects on the amount of care children will provide to elderly parents.  And that spells trouble for the baby boomer generation.  Temple University researcher Adam Davey, Ph.D. has found the impact of divorce and remarriage can predict about whether a child will provide more involved care in the future.

  A divorce may have happened over 30 years ago, but the changes it caused can have a long lasting effect for the child into adulthood, Davey said. The findings appear in the September issue of Advances in Life Course Research.

  More specifically, divorce predicted an adult child would be less involved with day-to-day assistance later in life for the aging parent. These activities include the child helping the parent maintain chores in the home.

  Davey analyzed data from 2,087 parents, aged 50 and older, who reported on their 7,019 adult children in the National Survey of Family and Households. Information was collected between 1987 and 1994.

  The study also found marital disruptions earlier in a child’s life can be less detrimental to the relationship than those which occurred in adulthood. This also means children in the same family can be affected differently by the same event, Davey said.

  One surprising finding was that both mothers and fathers are only half as likely to get support from a non-biological step-child. That, says Davey, has important implications for those who reach old age anticipating help from step-children.

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