Document Type

Fact Sheet

Publication Date



Increases in longevity and especially increased survival into very old age have implications not only for individuals’ own life course but also for that of their families. For example, if parents survive into very old age they will have more opportunities not only to become grandparents but also great-grandparents and to experience these family roles for a longer time period (the so-called “beanpole family”). From their adult children’s perspective, longer survival of parents also can mean that needs for companionship arising from one parent’s widow(er)hood will be postponed into their adult children’s later years, possibly after the child’s retirement. Similarly, because spouses typically function as primary caregivers for their partners, primary caregiving roles on the part of adult children may be postponed into children’s later years if both parents survive into very old age. Despite considerable evidence documenting increases in longevity, little research has been devoted to parental survival among adult children from the World War II babies and baby boom cohorts. We present data comparing parental survival across four cohorts of adult children using data from Health and Retirement Study (HRS).



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