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Journal Article

Returns home by children and changes in parents’ well-being in Europe


Publication date

Mar 2018


Co-resident adult children may be a source of emotional and instrumental support for older parents, but also a source of conflict and stress. Results from previous research are far from conclusive and indicate that intergenerational co-residence may have both negative and positive effects on parents' depressive symptoms and physical health. We analyse longitudinal data from four waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (2007-2015) to examine whether returns to the parental home by adult children are associated with changes in the quality of life of parents aged 50-75. Results from fixed effects linear regression models show that returns to the parental home by adult children were associated with decreases in parents' quality of life and that this largely reflected declines associated with the return of a child to an ‘empty nest’ where no other children were still co-resident. In line with previous research which has indicated differing effects of co-residence on parents' depressive symptoms by cultural tradition, such moves were associated with decreases in parents' quality of life to a greater extent in a grouping of Nordic/social-democratic countries than in other parts of Europe. There were no associations between changes in parental quality of life and the returning child's characteristics, although unemployment of a child was negatively, and new partnership of a child, positively associated with changes in parental quality of life.

Published in

Social Science and Medicine

Volume and page numbers

200 , 99 -106





Older People, Well Being, Life Course Analysis, Sociology Of Households, and Social Psychology



Open Access; Open Access funded by European Research Council; Under a Creative Commons license

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