How do parents and children help one another? : socioeconomic determinants of intergenerational transfers in Peninsular Malaysia

by Angelique Chan

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This paper uses data from the Second Malaysian Family Life Survey (MFLS-2) to examine the nature of transfer flows within extended families, and characteristics of seniors and their non-coresident adult children that may affect intergenerational transfers in Peninsular Malaysia. Previous research on the well-being of the elderly implicity suggests a correlation between coresidence and well-being of the elderly. In industrializing Asian societies, however, inter-household exchanges may be playing an increasingly important role in maintaining the well-being of the elderly and extended familial relations in general. Using a logistic regression model, this paper examines the influences that both parents' (aged 50+) and children's characteristics on the likelihood of various types of intergenerational transfers, i.e., transfers of money, housework help/personal care, and food, occur. The author also investigates the likelihood of coresidence, and frequency of contact, for this sample of elderly parents. Some of the major findings from the multivariate analysis are: (1) Unmarried seniors are more likely to make transfers to their children. (2) Couples where the wife is in poor health are more likely to receive housework help and personal care from non-coresident adult children than those in better health. (3) Chinese seniors are most likely to receive monetary transfers, whereas Malay seniors are most likely to receive service transfers. (4) Chinese seniors are least likely to provide childcare to their non-coresident adult children, whereas married Indian seniors are the most likely.

Originally published in: Journal of Population, v. 2, no. 1, June 1996, pp. 43-82.

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