Kin or Credit? Credit Use and the Withholding of Support to Kin.

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Maude PUGLIESE, McGill University, Canada
CĂ©line LE BOURDAIS, McGill University, Canada
Shelley CLARK, McGill University, Canada
Kin often extend support to each other, such as help with child-care, repairs, and financial transfers. However, the extension of such support to kin often associates with wealth depletion and increased likelihood of experiencing stress and anxiety. For this reason, many individuals do not desire to support their kin and seek to avoid having to do to. Thus far, however, few studies have explored the strategies these individuals employ to limit their support to kin. In this study, we explore whether they use indebtedness as a strategy of kin support withholding. Specifically, we argue that individuals who seek to limit their support to kin must overcome two difficulties. First, they must find alternatives to the support they receive from their kin, so as to limit their own reciprocity obligations. Second, they must also find legitimate justifications for not extending support, so as to avoid damaging their relationships to kin when refusing to extend support. We suggest that the use of revolving credit, such as credit cards, can help individuals not to rely on their kin for support and limit their reciprocity obligations because these forms of credit can help individuals to generate liquidity and to purchase services in the market instead of asking their kin for support in times of financial crunches. We also suggest that using installment loans to finance the purchase of large ticket items, such as cars and durables, can help individuals to justify not supporting their kin, since installment debt has for effect to pre-commit income and to make it unavailable. Using the National Survey of Families and Households, we find evidence that individuals who prefer not to support their kin use credit in both of these ways to reduce their support to kin. Our analyses contribute both to the de-familialization and financialization literatures.