Older Mother’s Health and Adult Children’s Education: Conceptualization of Adult Children’s Education and Mother-Child Relationships

Siyun Peng , Purdue University
Shawn Bauldry, Purdue University
J. Jill Suitor, Purdue University
Megan Gilligan, Iowa State University

An emerging body of research extends the well-documented education-health gradient to examine associations between adult children’s education and parents’ physical health. This study contributes to this literature by (1) providing a more concrete conceptualization of adult children’s education in the context of the family, (2) examining the effects of adult children’s education on older mothers’ physical and mental health, and (3) investigating potential moderating effects of the quality of mother-child relationships. Data come from Within-Family Differences Study which includes 543 older mothers who reported on their adult children. Results indicate that the best measurement of adult children’s education is the proportion of children with a bachelor’s degree, that higher levels of adult children’s education are associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms and a lower likelihood of an activity limitation among older mothers. The quality of mother-child relationships, however, did not moderate the observed associations.

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 Presented in Session 5. Health & Mortality 1