While this study will surprise no one, researchers in England have concluded that daughters were more likely than sons to visit their aged parents and keep them in the loop.
In 2012, the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences published “Social Contracts and Receipt of Help Among Older People in England: Are There Benefits of Having More Children?“. The article compared face-to-face contact among older adults and the rate the same older adults received help with activities of daily living.
The Significance of Childless Seniors
It’s estimated that 20-25% of all baby boomers do not have children.
More singles than married older adults end up in nursing homes.
However, it’s been shown that seniors who never were parents have more savings and more income than those with children.*Future studies will discover whether the higher rate of savings among childless seniors is enough to offset the higher cost of their institutional care. Informal care is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Results of the Study
The study showed the following:
- Older parents had more social contact than older non-parents. This included contact with their children and with friends.
- Having more than three children did not signficantly increase the amount of face-to-face contact a parent had with others.
- A daughter was the best indicator of whether an elderly parent had face-to-face social contact with others.
- Larger families were more likely to help with ADL than families with 1-2 children.
- Childless women relied on friends for help but that help came in lower numbers than women with children.
Although it may be considered impolite in some discussions, children are still good insurance.
*Plotnick, R. D., (2009), Childlessness and the Economic Well-being of Older Americans, Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 46: 6, 767-776.