Intergenerational contacts and depressive symptoms among older parents in Eastern Europe

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2019


Objective: We investigate the association between parent-child contact frequency and changes in older parents’ depressive symptoms in Bulgaria, Georgia and Russia. These are countries in which societal transformations may mean that psychological feelings of security engendered by having children in close contact may have particularly important implications for the mental health of older parents.

Methods: We analysed data from two waves of the Generation and Gender Surveys conducted three years apart and took account of relationships with more than one child. Analyses were performed using OLS regression models, adjusted for depressive symptoms at baseline.

Results: Among mothers increases in depressive symptoms were greater for those who lacked at least weekly contact with any child than for those with frequent contact with at least one child (b = 0.64; p<0.01). Increases in depressive symptoms were associated with infrequent contacts with children, even after controlling for relationship quality (b = 0.55; p<0.05). Among unpartnered fathers, less than weekly meetings with children were associated with increases in depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: Among mothers and unpartnered fathers changes in depressive symptoms varied by parent-child contact. The adverse effect of not having a partner on fathers’ mental health was reduced, but not eliminated, by having frequent contacts with adult children.

Published in

Aging & Mental Health

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 23 , p.686 -692






Open Access

© 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.



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