How Much Help Is Exchanged in Families? Towards an Understanding of Discrepant Research Findings
Responding to claims that contemporary families had abandoned their elderly members, gerontologists over the past 30 years have provided extensive documentation of intergenerational familial support. These studies have been lodged within conceptual frameworks of the modified extended family, intergenerational solidarity, and, more recently, intergenerational equity. By and large, studies claim to have found extensive levels of support. Closer examination of findings from various studies, however, reveals widely discrepant findings in terms of amounts of help given to and received by older family members. This paper examines the findings from four representative Canadian and American studies spanning four decades. Factors contributing to discrepant findings are identified at both methodological and conceptual levels, and implications for future research are discussed.
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