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Age-Gapped and Age-Condensed Lineages: Patterns of Intergenerational Age Structure Among Canadian Families


  • Anne Martin-Matthews
  • Karen Midori Kobayashi
  • Carolyn J. Rosenthal
  • Sarah H. Matthews


This paper examines intergenerational connections within Canadian families. Its focus is on intergenerational age structure, the interval or "gap" in years that separates one generation from the next. Intergenerational age structure is measured in terms of the age of a mother at the birth of her first child. Using data from the 1995 General Social Survey of Canada, the study examines the socio-demographic characteristics of women (n=404) in three- and four- generation families (lineages) that are age-condensed (small age distances between generations that are the result of early fertility) and those that are age-gapped (with large age distances between generations that are the result of late fertility patterns). Across two generations of women, there is a striking similarity in the distributions of age at first birth with just under one-third of the sample having early fertility, just over one-half falling into a normative or "on-time" category, and one-seventh having delayed fertility. However, when matched pairs of mothers and daughters are compared across generations, age-condensed and age-gapped lineage patterns show considerable variability. Although just under one-half of mother-daughter dyads show lineage consistency in family age structure across three generations (most typically in age-condensed/age-condensed or normative/normative age structures), low percentages of women whose family of origin was age-gapped repeat that age structure pattern in their own families of procreation. Socio-demographic factors such as mother's and daughter's age, family size, age at first marriage, and level of education are associated with lineage continuity and discontinuity in family age structure.

Suggested Citation

  • Anne Martin-Matthews & Karen Midori Kobayashi & Carolyn J. Rosenthal & Sarah H. Matthews, 2001. "Age-Gapped and Age-Condensed Lineages: Patterns of Intergenerational Age Structure Among Canadian Families," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 56, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:56

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    intergenerational age structure; GSS;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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