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His or Her Parents: Contact of Young Married Women in Korea with Parents and with Parents-in-law.

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionKim, Cheong-Seok, Barbara A. Anderson, and John H. Romani. "His or Her Parents: Contact of Young Married Women in Korea with Parents and with Parents-in-law." PSC Research Report No. 99-434. March 1999.

In East Asia, since intergenerational coresidence has been declining, other types of contact between generations have increased in importance. This paper focuses on the amount of contact and factors related to the amount of contact between young married women and their noncoresident parents and their noncoresident parents-in-law, based on data from Korea in 1994. We are especially interested in whether the same or different factors are related to the amount of contact with each set of parents. Three scenarios or models are examined. The filial piety scenario posits that the primary obligation of a married woman is to her parents-in-law rather than to her parents. For married women in nuclear families, this predicts that contact through visits or telephone calls is much more common between a married women and her in-laws than with her parents, and that contact with her in-laws is unaffected by accessibility of her parents. The competition scenario posits that the amount of contact with each set of parents is roughly equal. In this scenario, ease of contact with her husband's parents inhibits contact with her parents but that, also, ease of contact with her parents inhibits contact with her husband's parents. The no competition scenario posits that contact with each set of parents is unaffected by the ease of contact with the other set of parents. Main Results: * Visits are somewhat more frequent with the wife's parents-in-law than with the wife's parents, in support of the filial piety scenario; telephone calls are somewhat more frequent with the wife's parents than with the wife's parents-in-law, counter to all the scenarios. * Distance from the other set of parents does not influence the frequency of phone calls to the older generation on either side of the family, supporting the no competition scenario. * Consistent with the filial piety scenario and the competition scenario, the closer the husband's parents, the less frequent visits are with the wife's parents. * In contrast to the expectations based on the filial piety scenario, but consistent with the competition scenario, the closer the wife's parents, the less frequent visits with the husband's parents are. * Sociodemographic characteristics of the wife and of the parents are more important for both visits and calls with the wife's parents than with the husband's parents. Visits with the husband's parents may often be the result of adherence to strong norms, which leads to less variability in their causes than for visits with the wife's parents. * The most surprising finding is the support of the competition scenario in factors related to visits. The husband's and the wife's parents seem to be in competition for visits by the younger married couple - distance from the parents from one side has a parallel relationship to more frequent visits with the other set of parents. This is a much more equal footing for both sides of the family than attention to filial piety would predict. Further work will show whether the equality of treatment and obligations to both the husband's and the wife's parents increases further in the future.

Dataset(s): National Fertility and Family Health Survey: Korea 1994.

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