Dyadic longitudinal analysis of intergenerational exchanges

Data on pairs of subjects (dyads) are commonly collected in social research. In family research, for example, there is interest in the extent of agreement in family members' perceptions of relationship quality or how the strength of parent-child relationships depends on characteristics of parents and children. In organisational research, cooperation between coworkers may depend on factors relating to their relative roles and company ethos.

Dyadic data provide detailed information on interpersonal processes, but they are challenging to analyse because of their highly complex structure: they are often longitudinal because of interest in dependencies between individuals over time, dyads may be clustered into larger groups (e.g. in families or organisations), and variables of interest such as perceptions and attitudes may be measured by multiple indicators.

The new research project "Methods for the Analysis of Longitudinal Dyadic Data, with Applications to Intergenerational Exchanges of Family Support" aims to develop new methods for the analysis of longitudinal multivariate dyadic data.

While these methods have a number of potential applications, this project focuses on one important case study: the analysis of exchanges of support between parents and their adult children, using data from the British Household Panel Study and Understanding Society (or UK Household Longitudinal Study, UKHLS). Substantive questions to be investigated include:

  • What characteristics are associated with giving and receiving support for respondent-parent and respondent-adult offspring dyads? To what extent is the giving and receipt of help persistent over time for a given dyad? And to what extent is the level of exchange associated with lifecycle events?
  • What is the level and nature of reciprocity of exchanges?

  • For respondents with non-coresident parents and adult offspring, are norms of reciprocity strained where there are competing demands on respondents' time and resources?

  • To what extent are financial transfers and 'in kind' transfers (i.e. spending time to help someone) complementary and to what extent do they appear to be substitutes? How does this depend on the socio-economic circumstances of the donor?

The project team includes social statisticians from the Department of Statistics at LSE, and social scientists from the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at LSE and the Institute for Economic and Social Research (ISER) at the University of Essex. The three-year project began in October 2017. It is co-funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).