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Change and Stability in Parent–Child Contact in Five Western Countries

By Matthijs Kalmijn and Jannes De Vries


Although much is known about changes in the conjugal family, little is known about trends in contact between parents and adult (independently living) children. Using unique survey data, we study changes in contact with the mother and the father in five western countries over a 15-year period (Austria, West Germany, Great Britain, the United States, and Italy). We describe changes and we examine the role of compositional changes in the trend. We find no evidence for a decline in intergenerational contact, in contrast to notions of individualism. In two countries, there has been an increase in contact with the mother and in three countries no net trend is observed. Contact with the father has not changed. Other forms of contact (e.g., telephone contact) have increased. Some compositional changes have had a downward pressure on the trend, leading to a decline in contact (i.e., rising education, declining church attendance), but these pressures have been compensated by counteracting compositional changes (declining sibsize) and by behavioral changes

Topics: Article
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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