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Intergenerational Transmission


As it is often used in the literature, the concept of intergenerational transmission is frequently narrow in its application. For example, it is often used to imply a one-way flow: the transmission of resources from an older generation to a younger, or the intergenerational transmission of beliefs and attitudes of one generation to another. This is by no means the case, however. While reciprocity is a distinct concept, it is an integral part of intergenerational relations and intergenerational transmission.

A second limitation is that the concept of intergenerational transmission is almost exclusively applied to flows and transfers, particularly financial, down the generations, from older to younger generations. Except in the extensive gerontological literature on caregiving (which focuses almost exclusively on what family members in mid-life do to assist their frail and aging parent or parents), there is little consideration of the intergenerational transmission of values up the lineage from younger to older generations.

A third limitation is the infrequency with which the concept of intergenerational transmission is utilized to describe relations between generations that are non-contiguous, or that represent "skipped" generations. For example, while there is considerable research on parent-child relations, there is much less research on grandparent-grandchild relations (although there is some literature on the role of grandparents in raising grandchildren in families where the middle generation is, for reasons of divorce, addiction, or disability, unable to do so).


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Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelatives & Extended FamilyIntergenerational Transmission - Cultural Transmission: Values, Norms, And Beliefs, Social Support, Intergenerational Solidarity, Limitations