Young Adults' Sexual Orientation and the Interrelatedness of Inter- and Intragenerational Family Relations

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Karsten HANK, University of Cologne, Germany
Anja STEINBACH, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany
Next to a long tradition of research investigating intergenerational solidarity between parents and adult children, a growing number of studies also address intragenerational relations between adult siblings. This seems important, because even though multigenerational (that is, ‘vertical’) bonds have gained in importance relative to nuclear family ties, siblings (that is, ‘horizontal bonds’) remain an important social resource over the life course. However, although we know that offspring and sibling characteristics are closely associated with both upward and downward exchanges of support within families, relatively little is known about the interrelatedness of inter- and intragenerational family relations.

Theoretically, one relationship might compensate for the other (compensation mechanism), or there may be spillover effects from one relationship to the other (reinforcing mechanism), but empirical evidence which of these mechanisms dominates (under which circumstances) is scarce. Moreover, we are not aware of any studies, investigating possible interactions with children’s (siblings’, respectively) sexual orientation, despite a rapid expansion of social science research on gay and lesbian family issues.

Exploiting data from the German Family Panel (pairfam) and extending a recent analysis of gay and lesbian adults’ relationship with parents in Germany (Hank & Salzburger, JMF, 2015), we aim to contribute to closing this research gap. Our analysis draws on more than 6,000 interviews with young adults (‘anchors’) representative for three cohorts (1971-73, 1981-83, and 1991-93), who provided detailed information on various aspects of the relationships to their parents and up to four siblings. We primarily focus on inter- and intragenerational contact, emotional closeness and intimacy, as well as conflict. Our multivariate model accounts for an array of socio-demographic controls, individuals’ socio-economic position, and for the anchor’s sexual orientation, which we approximate by information on hetero- and homosexual partnership experiences.