Parent-Child Relations in Young Adulthood: Evidence from Switzerland

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 419
Oral Presentation
Ariane BERTOGG , Institute of Sociology, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland
Marc SZYDLIK , Institute of Sociology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
In times of economic crisis, insecure labour markets and the rising importance of tertiary education, young adulthood is characterized by prolonged dependency from the parental generation, making it necessary to renegotiate the subtle balance between autonomy and attachment. While parental resources like socio-economic status or cultural capital are well known to shape the career opportunities of young adults, research about their influence on ties between adult children and their parents still remains sparse. However, recent relevant additions to the Swiss TREE survey (“Transition from Education to Employment”) now offer the opportunity to investigate intergenerational family relationships of young adults.

This study will therefore focus on two concepts of intergenerational solidarity that seem salient and stable across the life course as well as through the layers of society: affective solidarity (emotional closeness) and associational solidarity (contact). How do the crucial transition markers, such as the achievement of financial and residential autonomy, influence parent-child bonds? Will ties loosen, once independence is established? Or does the relief of achieved autonomy actually enhance feelings of attachment? In what way do individual, familial and societal determinants explain different patterns?

The overall hypothesis, basing on need and opportunity structures of individuals and their parents, suggests that financial or residential dependence of young adults strains the intergenerational relationship, whereas a (financially) secured situation leads to higher emotional closeness. Using the TREE panel data, multivariate analyses of the relationship between 26-year-old respondents and their parents have been conducted. The results support the main hypothesis, but also show remarkable differences in young adults´ intergenerational family relations, both due to life course events and broader familial and societal contexts.