Single parents are more likely than parents in nuclear families to receive financial help from their grown, live-in children, according to research to be presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
In the first study of this decade to examine the benefits parents receive from live-in adult children instead of vice versa, Bowling Green State University sociologists Krista Kay Payne and Kristy M. Krivickas found that household financial contributions by the increasing number of young adults who return to—or never leave—the nest were influenced by young adults' personal characteristics, family structures and family transitions.
Single parents were not only the more likely recipients of financial contributions from their grown children, but also were the recipients of greater contributions on average than nuclear families. This was particularly the case for those parents who were always single, but also for those single parents with fewer marital/family transitions.
"Particularly in the case of single-parent families, understanding more about the relationship between family structure and young adult financial contributions may provide clues to how poverty is transmitted from one generation to the next," said Payne, a doctoral candidate in sociology and the lead author of the study. "Young adults whose parents depend on them to make ends meet may make choices that negatively impact their financial prospects for the future."
Payne and Krivickas analyzed three waves of data collected between 1994 and 2002 from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to determine links between family structure and young adults' financial contributions.
The sociologists found that young adults who previously experienced family transitions were less likely to contribute, and that grown children living with their nuclear families were more likely to provide assistance than those living with step-families.
The likelihood of household financial assistance increased as young adults got older, and sons were more likely than daughters to contribute financially. Grown children living at home were found more likely to chip in funds when they held full-time jobs, attended school or earned income of some sort.
Counter to expectations, fathers were slightly more likely than mothers to receive financial contributions from their live-in, young-adult offspring, and this also was the case more with Hispanic and Asian parents than with white parents.
The paper, "The Effect of Family Structure and Parental Need on Co-residing Young Adults' Household Financial Contributions," will be presented on Monday, Aug. 10, at the American Sociological Association's 104th annual meeting.
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