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Caught in the Middle? Occupancy in Multiple Roles and Help to Parents in a National Probability Sample of Canadian Adults


  • Carolyn J. Rosenthal
  • Anne Martin-Matthews
  • Sarah H. Matthews


This paper considers for a Canadian national probability sample of middle-aged women and men the question of how typical is the experience of being "caught in the middle" between being the adult child of elderly parents and other roles. Three roles are examined: adult child, employed worker, and parent (and a refinement of the parent role, being a parent of a co-resident child). Occupancy in multiple roles is examined, followed by an investigation of the extent to which adults in various role combinations actually assist older parents and whether those who provide frequent help are also those "sandwiched" by competing ommitments. The majority of middle-aged children do not provide frequent help to parents. Notably, the highest proportion of daughters who assist elderly parents are those in their fifties whose children are no longer co-resident. For both sons and daughters, being "caught in the middle" is far from a typical experience in this cross-sectional analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Carolyn J. Rosenthal & Anne Martin-Matthews & Sarah H. Matthews, 1996. "Caught in the Middle? Occupancy in Multiple Roles and Help to Parents in a National Probability Sample of Canadian Adults," Independence and Economic Security of the Older Population Research Papers 4, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:iesopp:4

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    Cited by:

    1. Katharina Herlofson & Gunhild Hagestad, 2011. "Challenges in moving from macro to micro: Population and family structures in ageing societies," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 25(10), pages 337-370, August.
    2. Carolyn J. Rosenthal, 1997. "The Changing Contexts of Family Care in Canada," Independence and Economic Security of the Older Population Research Papers 10, McMaster University.

    More about this item


    multiple roles;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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