Older adults' perceptions of intergenerational support after widowhood how do men and women differ?

Jung Hwa Ha, Deborah Carr, Rebecca L. Utz, Randolph Nesse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


This study examines the ways that widowhood affects older adults' perceived exchange of support with their children, and whether exchange patterns differ by gender. Data are from the Changing Lives of Older Couples (CLOC), a prospective study of 1,532 married individuals age 65 years and older. Spousal loss increases older adults' dependence on their children 6 months after the loss yet decreases children's dependence on their surviving parents. Patterns of postloss parent-child exchanges differ by gender of parent. Compared to widowers, widows are more dependent on their children for financial and/or legal advice yet provide more emotional and instrumental support. However, these gender differences are contingent on educational attainment. Education decreases widows' dependence on children for financial and legal advice yet increases widowers' provision of emotional support to their children. The findings suggest that adherence to traditional gender roles among married couples may influence older adults' adaptation to spousal loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-30
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Gender roles
  • Intergenerational exchange
  • Parent-child dependence
  • Widowhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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