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How Much Care Do the Aged Receive from Their Children? A Bimodal Picture of Contact and Assistance

In: The Economics of Aging


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  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff
  • John N. Morris


This paper presents some preliminary findings about contact between the aged and their children based on a new survey of the aged and their children, entitled The Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for the Aged-NBER (HRC-NBER) Child Survey. Data on extended families is quite limited. The HRC-NBER Child Survey represents one of the few attempts to collect economic and demographic data on the elderly and their children. While these data will be used in future,research to test structural models of the living arrangements, the purposes of the current paper are to describe the survey and to examine contact between the elderly and their children. While our findings are preliminary and will be updated and expanded as we receive more data, it appears that a significant minority of the elderly, many of whom need assistance with the activities of daily living, have either no children or have only limited contact with their children. Contact between children and the vulnerable elderly appears to be less than that between children and the nonvulnerable elderly, and the amount of contact between children and the institutionalized elderly seems the least of all. In addition, although many of the parents in our data are very poor, financial support from children to parents, other than in the form of shared housing, is uncommon. The impression given by these data is that many of the elderly are very well cared for by their children, while a significant minority either have no children or have no children who provide significant time or care. Some of the findings for this sample are striking: (1) over a fifth of the elderly have no children. (2) over one half of the elderly either do not have a daughter or do not have a daughter who lives within an hour of them. (3) over half of single elderly males and females and over two fifths of vulnerable single elderly males and females live completely alone. (4) of the elderly who have children, fewer than a quarter live with their children. (5) a

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This chapter was published in:

  • David A. Wise, 1989. "The Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise89-1, October.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11581.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11581

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    Cited by:
    1. Axel Borsch-Supan & Vassilis Hajivassiliou & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & John N. Morris, 1990. "Health, Children, and Elderly Living Arrangements: A Multiperiod-Multinomial Probit Model with Unobserved Heterogeneity and Autocorrelated Errors," NBER Working Papers 3343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Pal, Sarmistha, 2007. "Effects of Intergenerational Transfers on Elderly Coresidence with Adult Children: Evidence from Rural India," IZA Discussion Papers 2847, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Axel Borsch-Supan & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & John N. Morris, 1988. "The Dynamics of Living Arrangements of the Elderly," NBER Working Papers 2787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Cox, Donald & Stark, Oded, 2004. "On The Demand For Grandchildren: Tied Transfers And The Demonstration Effect," Discussion Papers, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF) 18751, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    5. Van Houtven, Courtney Harold & Norton, Edward C., 2008. "Informal care and Medicare expenditures: Testing for heterogeneous treatment effects," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 134-156, January.
    6. Konrad, Kai A. & Künemund, Harald & Lommerud, Kjell Erik & Robledo, Julio R., 2001. "Geography of the family," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance FS IV 01-16, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    7. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & John N. Morris, 1990. "Why Don’t the Elderly Live with Their Children? A New Look," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Aging, pages 149-172 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Sarmistha Pal, 2004. "Do Children Act As Old Age Security in Rural India? Evidence from an Analysis of Elderly Living Arrangements," Labor and Demography, EconWPA 0405002, EconWPA, revised 15 Oct 2004.
    9. Surkov, Alexander, 2009. "Пенсионная Реформа И Межпоколенческий Альтруизм В Моделях Экономической Динамики
      [Pension reform and intergenerational altrui
      ," MPRA Paper 27632, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Axel Borsch-Supan & Daniel McFadden & Reinhold Schnabel, 1993. "Living Arrangements: Health and Wealth Effects," NBER Working Papers 4398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Emanuela Cardia & Serena Ng, 2003. "Intergenerational Time Transfers and Childcare," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(2), pages 431-454, April.
    12. Emanuela Cardia & Serena Ng, 1997. "How Important are Intergenerational Transfers of Time? A Macroeconomic Analysis," Boston College Working Papers in Economics, Boston College Department of Economics 395, Boston College Department of Economics.
    13. Sarmistha Pal, 2006. "Elderly Health, Wealth and Coresidence with Adult Children in Rural India," Economics and Finance Discussion Papers, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University 06-17, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.


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