This review explores historical changes in generational relations in American society as they affect adaptation to the later years of life. Following a life course perspective, the review examines changes in the timing of life transitions, in family relations, and in generational and kin assistance and their impact on support in old age. In doing so, it demonstrates the significance of a historical and life course approach to the understanding of generational relations over time. Dispelling prevailing myths about coresidence and generational assistance in the past, the review discusses the circumstances under which nuclear household arrangements were modified and explores patterns of assistance inside and outside the household. It links demographic changes in the timing of life course transitions with patterns of supports to aging parents in the context of changing reciprocities among kin. By comparing two cohorts of adult children in an American community in terms of their supports to aging parents, as well as their attitudes toward generational assistance, the review identifies historical changes in the relations between generations in the larger context of family relations and kin assistance.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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