What Narrows the Stepgap? Closeness Between Parents and Adult (Step)Children in Germany


  • This article was edited by Deborah S. Carr.

Department of Sociology, Chemnitz University of Technology, 09107 Chemnitz, Germany (oliver.arranz-becker@soziologie.tu-chemnitz.de).


Using data from the German Family Panel (pairfam) based on 11,746 intergenerational family relationships, the present study examined differences in parental closeness across relations with multiple, coresidential, and non-coresidential adolescent and adult children. Replicating previous research in a multilevel analysis across families, the authors found a strong positive effect of biological descent on closeness in comparison to adoptive and steprelations; this parental favoritism toward biological offspring was partly explained by selection via parental resources and attitudes. Supplemental within-parent fixed effect analyses suggested that the relative disadvantage of stepchildren was offset by longer duration of the stepparent–stepchild relationship, lower household income, fewer children in the household, and high parental affirmation of familism.