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Helping Out the Kids: Expectations About Parental Support in Young Adulthood



This paper examines the expectations of very young adults (age 18) and their mothers about financial support that parents might provide under a variety of situations common in young adulthood. Using representative data from women and one of their children, we examine differences in expectations between mothers and children and model variation in these expectations. We find that a lower proportion of mothers expect to provide support than their children expect them to, with particularly large gaps between mothers and sons. Further, there are substantial differences in support priorities. Many mothers would support only a married child and others only an unmarried one; similarly, some mothers would support only an unmarried child at home, whereas many others would only support a child away. Although some of these differences reflect differences in resources, most suggest disagreements and confusion about Americans' family values.