Intergenerational contact beyond the dyad: the role of the sibling network

Ruben I. van Gaalen, Pearl A. Dykstra, Henk Flap

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In this paper we aim to reach beyond the dyadic perspective on intergenerational contact and examine the influence of the sibling network on parent–child contact. We include aggregate sibling network characteristics as well as the adult child’s position in the network vis-a`-vis siblings, and use data from the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (2002–2004 NKPS; N = 4,601 dyads). Regarding aggregate network characteristics results show that having sisters, having stepsiblings, increasing geographical distance between siblings, and decreasing levels of network cohesion are associated with less contact per parent–child dyad. Regarding the position of the adult child vis-a`-vis his or her siblings, results show that having geographically or emotionally closer siblings has a negative effect on parent– child contact. The impact of differences in emotional distance among siblings is stronger when the analyses are limited to parents in poor health. Suggestions for future research are made.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19
Number of pages1
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Sibling network
  • Parent–child relationships
  • Frequency of contact

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