Intimacy at a Distance? Maternal Co-Residence and Contact in 20 Nations

Judith Treas, University of California, Irvine

For grown children and their mothers, the likelihood of shared housing and the frequency of face-to-face interaction are examined using 1994 International Social Survey Program data for 20 countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, East Germany, West Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, United States. The analysis first identifies survey respondents at risk of co-residing, that is, adults whose mothers are still alive. Hierarchical linear modeling investigates the determinants of shared housing and, for those who do not co-reside, frequent visiting. Both individual-level and national-level factors contribute to these exchanges between adults and their mothers. Although "intimacy at a distance" predicts that the association of co-residence and contact will be nil or even negative, the findings are consistent with the alternative hypothesis that "familistic values" promote both high rates of multigenerational co-residence and frequent contact between generations.

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Presented in Session 136: International Perspectives on the Effects of Family Structure