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Diversity and Structure of Intergenerational Relationship: Elderly Parents-Adult Children Relations in Korea

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Park, Keong-Suk, Voon Chin Phua, James McNally, and RongJun Sun. 2005. "Diversity and Structure of Intergenerational Relationship: Elderly Parents-Adult Children Relations in Korea." Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 20 (4) 285-305.

Korean society has undergone a rapid demographic transition that has challenged traditional patterns of family exchanges. The structure and directions of support flows have become more complex as multiple generations coexist. This article examines the complexity of contemporary Korean intergenerational relationships. The study analyzed two different samples to address anticipated differences in perceptions of and attitudes toward relationships between adult children and elderly parents. The researchers used maximum likelihood latent structure analysis to discover the latent patterns of the association among three main subdimensions of intergenerational relationships: geographic proximity, exchange of support, and cultural norms of family support. Results show that the perspectives on intergenerational relationships differ significantly between middle-aged children and elderly parents. Intergenerational relationships among middle-aged adults comprise five distinct patterns: strong reciprocal, strong traditional, intermediate normative, intermediate circumstantial, and weak. The interpretation of intergenerational relationships from the elders’ perspectives is more straightforward, with only three patterns: traditional, reciprocal, and weak. Along with significant socioeconomic differences in the prevalent patterns of intergenerational relationships, these results emphasize the complex interplay of contingency and path dependency in diversifying the value and support exchanges of intergenerational relationships.

DOI:10.1007/s10823-006-9007-1 (Full Text)

Country of focus: Korea South.

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