Ageing and Society


Est modus in rebus: a longitudinal study of intergenerational solidarity and Locus of Control


Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.


This study challenges the persistent assumption behind research on intergenerational relationships, wondering: ‘can there be too much of a good thing’? The guiding hypothesis states that intergenerational solidarity, although beneficial for older parents' wellbeing at moderate levels, may be negatively associated with their individual sense of control at high levels. In contrast to previous studies, fixed-effects regression models on panel data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing control for selection in solidarity and changes in health. The analysis of 4,811 women and 3,847 men above the age of 50 also accounts for intergenerational conflict. Using multiple dimensions of intergenerational solidarity, our findings offer insight into the different roles of the various types of solidarity and can aid the design of formal and informal social support interventions.

(Accepted January 27 2014)

(Online publication March 10 2014)


  • ageing;
  • intergenerational solidarity;
  • Locus of Control;
  • longitudinal analysis;
  • within-person estimation


Address for correspondence: Valeria Bordone, World Population Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Schlossplatz, 1 - 2361 Laxenburg, Austria. E-mail: