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Returns on Lifetime Investments in Children in Egypt


  • Solveig Cunningham


  • Kathryn Yount
  • Michal Engelman
  • Emily Agree


Parental expectations about the companionship and assistance they will receive in later life from their children are key considerations in family formation decisions. We explore patterns of parents’ investment and the support and contact they receive from adult children in Egypt, where fertility is falling and sources of support at all life stages are in flux. Using data from a survey of older adults in Ismailia governorate, we consider parents’ past investments in childbearing, child survival, and children’s education and marriage, as well as recent assistance to adult children via housing, care for grandchildren, gifts, and money. The returns from children considered include economic assistance, instrumental support, and visits. Most parental investments are associated with frequent visits from children. The assistance children provide to parents is gendered: sons tend to provide economic transfers, whereas daughters tend to provide instrumental help. A greater number of surviving children is most strongly associated with parents’ receipt of multiple types of later-life returns. Investments in children’s education and marriage are not associated with assistance, but recent assistance to children—especially economic transfers and provision of housing—is associated with receiving instrumental assistance from adult children. Copyright Population Association of America 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Solveig Cunningham & Kathryn Yount & Michal Engelman & Emily Agree, 2013. "Returns on Lifetime Investments in Children in Egypt," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(2), pages 699-724, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:50:y:2013:i:2:p:699-724
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-012-0147-3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, January.
    2. Donald Cox & Oded Stark, 2007. "On the Demand for Grandchildren: Tied Transfers and the Demonstration Effect," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Happiness, chapter 18 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Mohamed Jellal & Francois-Charles Wolff, 2002. "Insecure old-age security," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(4), pages 636-648, October.
    4. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith & Julie Zissimopoulos, 2007. "Inter-vivos Giving Over the Lifecycle," Working Papers 524, RAND Corporation.
    5. Zachary Zimmer & Julia Kwong, 2003. "Family size and support of older adults in urban and rural China: Current effects and future implications," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 40(1), pages 23-44, February.
    6. Rodolfo Bulatao, 1981. "Values and disvalues of children in successive childbearing decisions," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(1), pages 1-25, February.
    7. repec:cai:poeine:pope_505_0505 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Lonnie W. Aarssen, 2005. "Why Is Fertility Lower in Wealthier Countries? The Role of Relaxed Fertility-Selection," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 31(1), pages 113-126.
    9. John C. Caldwell, 2005. "On Net Intergenerational Wealth Flows: An Update," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 31(4), pages 721-740.
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco C. Billari & Vincenzo Galasso, 2014. "Fertility decisions and pension reforms. Evidence from natural experiments in Italy," IdEP Economic Papers 1403, USI Università della Svizzera italiana.
    2. Nadia Diamond-Smith & David Bishai & Omaima El Gibaly, 2015. "Inter-generational co-residence and women's work and leisure time in Egypt," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 33(31), pages 909-938, October.
    3. Julia Anna Matz, 2016. "Productivity, Rank, and Returns in Polygamy," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(5), pages 1319-1350, October.


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