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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Giving and receiving help in aging families : The independent and joint effects of gender and class Bednarski, Valerie Ann


This thesis examines the independent and joint effects of gender and class on patterns of giving and receiving help in aging families. Using data from the 1990 General Social Survey, this study looks at adult children who help their parents who live in another household. This study also examines an unrelated sample of elderly parents who receive help from their children not living within their household. The findings show that more adult daughters than sons helped their parents with a majority of tasks. The results also show that "competing demands" such as work, marital status, and health status do not pull either sons or daughters away from providing assistance. Sons and daughters who live within an hour of their parents are more likely to help with most tasks compared to those children whose parents live farther away. Among elderly parents, more mothers than fathers received filial assistance on a couple of tasks. Marital status did not appear to influence likelihood of receiving help. Mothers and fathers who had at least one child living within an hour's distance were more likely to receive help than those whose children lived farther away, but only for some tasks. There was a relationship between class, as measured by one's level of education, and helping. However, results varied by task and were not always linear or in the anticipated direction. Class was also related to receipt of help but only for housework, transportation, and help with at least one task. In most cases the results were in the expected direction: working class elderly were more likely to receive help compared to the elderly from the upper and middle class. Expectations that class and gender interact to influence helping received mixed support. Contrary to the literature, middle class women were the most likely to give help with a couple of task categories such as housework. For the elderly, interaction effects only existed for those who received help with maintenance and with at least one task. For most tasks, gender is a stronger predictor than class for either giving or receiving help. Results from this thesis demonstrate that future studies on class, gender and caring should examine tasks separately as key differences emerge according to the task involved.

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