Reassessing the Decline in Parent-Child Old-Age Coresidence During the 20th Century

by Robert F. Schoeni

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The share of the elderly living with a child has decreased monotonically throughout the twentieth century, and this has been interpreted as a decline in the role of the family in providing old-age assistance. However, at the same time, the probability of reaching old age has increased dramatically. This paper derives a measure that incorporates these two factors to determine whether the expected life years lived in old-age coresidence with a child has in fact decreased. The results imply that the role of the family in providing old-age support actually intensified over the first four decades of the 1900s, and then it began to fall through 1990.

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