Does the Transition to (grand-)Parenthood Change Intergenerational Relationships?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Room: 511
Veronika SALZBURGER , University of Cologne, Germany
Existing studies suggest a close relationship between the presence of grandchildren and intergenerational relationships: For example, studies on grandparental involvement in parenting show that the birth of a child increases opportunities for associative solidarity between generations as well as it increases the demand and supply of functional solidarity, both with regard to material help or childcare as well as information and advice. This, in turn, may also result in increased affective solidarity. But it might also operate in opposing directions: If the demand for intergenerational solidarity meets supply from the grandparental side, this may enhance the existing intergenerational relationship; in case of incongruency, the event may result in increased intergenerational conflict or detachment. Yet, more research is needed on how intergenerational relations adapt to the new family structure and needs of family members after the generational transition. Past research mostly concentrate on the presence of grandchildren regardless of their age, consider only one direction (parents or grandparents perspective), or are analyze cross sectional data. The present study examines the transition to first parenthood and the associated development in intergenerational relations over a two year period concerning various dimensions of the Bengtson-Silverstein-solidarity-model. The German Family Panel (pairfam) is chosen as the appropriate data-set to addressing the research question, including reports from both perspectives, gathered in 2010 and 2012. Using difference score regression, N=7,163 dyads were analyzed. The analyses suggest an increase in the frequency of contact and practical support only from the elder to the younger generation. No changes were found for financial transfers. Regarding the frequency of conflicts, the generational transition has a decreasing impact.