Many Americans have the responsibility of taking care of elderly parents or in-laws, while others are providing money to support their elderly parents. Additionally, many people help their children with education expenses, costs of weddings and new families, house purchases, child care, and so on. Recent surveys of the Mature and Young Women NLS cohorts have included questions about transfers of time and money to a respondent's parents and children.
Parents and Transfers
Prior to the 1993 survey, a limited amount of data was collected about parents or transfers. The 1968 survey started an occasional collection of information about the life status of the respondent's parents. In most surveys' "Income" sections, respondents are asked if they have received an inheritance and the inheritance's value. As part of the household chores series, the 1987 survey sought information on whether the respondent provided care to household members who were ill or disabled. Beginning with the 1991 survey, questions in the "Health" section determine whether the respondent regularly spends time helping or caring for household members who are chronically ill or disabled or for friends or relatives who do not reside in the respondent's household. Finally, in the "Current Labor Force Status" section of the questionnaires, respondents who are not working can state that they are caring for an ill family member. These sources, however, provided only a minimal picture of parents and transfers.
The "Parents and Transfers" section in the 1993, 1997, and 2001 surveys contained in-depth questions about parental health, marital status, income, housing, and transfers to and from the respondent. (The 2003 survey also contained a smaller series of parent questions). The section began with biographical and health information about the respondent's parents and in-laws, living and deceased. Information was then collected about the parents' residence, including whether the parent lived in a nursing home, and the distance the parent lived from the respondent. In 1997 and 2001, if one or more of the respondent's or her husband's parents lived in the same household as the respondent, the survey asked whether the parent(s) contributed to the running of the household. During both surveys, respondents also provided information about the financial situation of their parents and in-laws by answering questions about parental income, the value of the parents' home (1993 only), and the net worth of the parents' assets. Residence and financial information was gathered for the surviving parents of the respondent as well as for her husband's parents; stepparents were included when married to a biological parent.
The transfers questions referred to the mother and father identified by the respondent as the people who played the most important role in raising her. The parents could be biological, step-, or adoptive parents. The same selection criteria applied to her husband's parents.
In addition to this basic background information, the 1993 and 1997 surveys collected extensive data about transfers of time and money to the respondent's living parents and parents-in-law. The respondent first reported transfers to her father and his current wife, whether that was the respondent's mother or another person. If the respondent's parents were not currently married, she next reported transfers to her mother and her current husband. This process was repeated for the respondent's husband's father and his wife and finally, if applicable, for the husband's mother and her husband. Transfers were not reported separately for a married couple; for example, money given to a father and his wife was reported as one amount. Questions in the 2001 survey asked about transfers both to and from the respondent's living parents and parents-in-law. In 1993, the Young Women answered similar questions about transfers of time and money from their parents as well, enabling researchers to examine transfers in both directions.
In 1997, questions about time transfers asked about two types of assistance: help with personal care (defined in the survey as help with dressing, eating, cutting hair, or any other care involving the body) and help with household chores and errands (activities such as house cleaning, yard work, cooking, house repairs, car repairs, shopping, and trips to doctors). Respondents first reported whether they had spent any time in the past 12 months helping each parent or couple with personal care and stated how many hours over the past 12 months they had spent helping each parent. The same questions were repeated for time spent helping with household chores or running errands. The 1993 survey combined both types of assistance into one question; it also asked about transfers of time received from the respondent's parents.
The 1997 Young Women survey then collected information about financial transfers to each parent or couple in the previous 12 months. Regarding loans, the first type of financial assistance, respondents stated whether they had made any loans, the value of the loan, and whether they expected the amount to be repaid. Respondents then reported the total value of gifts given in the past 12 months, if the gifts had a total value of at least $100. The last question about money transfers asked about the value of other financial support, such as paying bills or expenses without the expectation of being paid back. As with time transfers, the 1993 survey asked about all the financial transfers in one question, rather than breaking them into separate categories, but included questions about money received from the respondent's parents. The 2001 survey also included in-depth questions on any parental transfers greater than $2,000 from the time the respondent was age 19 until the present.
Finally, the transfers section included questions about whether deceased parents had a will and the amount of the estate. If the estate was not divided evenly among the surviving children, the respondent was asked to explain the reason.
Table YW1 provides basic information about the number of respondents in the universe for each major topic in the 1997 and 2001 parent transfers sections. (The series of questions on parents' estates was also asked in 2003). These totals do not imply that all respondents answered every question on a given topic; they are shown to give researchers a general idea of the amount of data available.
Table YW1. Universe Information for the 1997 and 2001 Parent Transfers Sections
Parents and Transfers Items
1997 # of Respondents
2001 # of Respondents
Total respondents interviewed
Number of respondents:
With at least one living parent (R's or husband's)
Providing time transfers to any parent in past 12 months
Providing financial transfers to any parent in past 12 months
Providing any transfer to any parent in past 12 months
Receiving time transfers from any parent in past 12 months
Receiving financial transfers from any parent in past 12 months
Receiving any transfer from any parent in past 12 months
Answering questions on estate of father or mother
Note: The parental transfers information is based on R42031.00, R42032.00, R42044.00, R42045.00, R42066.00, R42067.00, R42079.00, R42080.00, R42138.00, R42141.00, R42144.00, R42147.00, R42149.00, R42167.00, R42170.00, R42173.00, R42176.00, R42178.00, R42196.00, R42199.00, R42202.00, R42205.00, R42207.00, R42224.00, R42227.00, R42230.00, R42233.00, R42235.00, R42091.00, and R42107.00.
1 Does not include time spent helping with childcare.
2For estates settled since last interview.
In 1997 and 1999, the Mature Women survey included a special set of questions asked only of respondents who had a daughter in the Young Women cohort. These respondents provided information about transfers of time and money received from each daughter and her spouse. This information can be compared to the Young Woman's 1997 report of transfers provided to her mother. This reciprocal collection allows researchers to evaluate differences in perceptions about transfers and the quality of these data, using information from both sides of the transfer.
Survey Instruments: The parental transfer information was collected in the "Parents and Transfers" section of the 1993, 1997, 2001, and 2003 questionnaires.
Children and Transfers
To capture complementary information about intergenerational transfers in the opposite direction, the 1999 and 2003 surveys asked Young Women about transfers involving the respondent's children. Included in the data collection were biological, step-, and adopted children of both the respondent and her husband (see R52580.00, "Total Children in Roster," for total number of children in roster). This section supplements the fertility data periodically collected since the 1960s.
The transfers section initially collected demographic data, including gender, age or date of birth, highest grade completed, and relationship to the respondent for all children not residing in the household (these data are in the household record for children residing in the household). Residence questions for children outside the household asked about the distance each child lived from the respondent, whether the child owned his or her home, and the home's value.
The rest of the transfers questions referred only to children age 19 or older and to children ages 14 to 18 who were married or had a child. If any of the respondent's children lived with her and met these universe requirements, a series of residence questions asked about the child's financial and time contributions to the household. If the respondent lived in her child's household, these questions asked her to report her financial and time contributions to the shared household. The respondent then answered questions about the assets and debts of each eligible child.
After collecting this preliminary information, the survey asked the respondent to report transfers of time and money to and from up to five children meeting the universe requirements described above. Included were separate questions regarding loans, gifts, and other financial assistance, as well as time transferred for child care, personal care, chores, and errands. These questions were very similar to the parental series described above, although additional categories of time transfers were included. If the respondent had more than five children, additional information was collected about the remaining children as a group. The selection of children for these questions is described in Figure YW1.
Figure YW1. Children Included in the Transfers Data Collection
Total # of Children
# Inside the Household
# Outside the ousehold
Children Included in the Survey
5 or fewer
Each child asked about individually
6 or more
4 or fewer
Each child in HH asked about individually; children outside HH asked about as a group
6 or more
5 or more
4 or fewer
Children in HH asked about as a group; each child outside HH asked about individually
6 or more
All children asked about as a group
6 or more
All children asked about as a group
6 or more
5 or more
5 or more
All children in HH asked about as a group; all children outside HH asked about as a group
Respondents then provided information about their estates. If the respondent had a will, she first stated whether or not she would leave everything to her husband if she died before he did. She then stated whether any of her children would be the beneficiaries if her husband was not alive; if not, the respondent was asked to explain. If the estate would not be divided equally among the children, she was asked to give a reason.
The 1999 Young Women survey included a special set of questions for respondents who had a mother in the Mature Women cohort. These Young Women described transfers of time and money to and from their mothers and reported the amount of their mothers' assets and debts. Like the similar series of 1997 questions addressed to Mature Women with daughters in the Young Women cohort, this reciprocal collection of data provides researchers with an opportunity to assess the quality of the 1999 transfers data.
Two series of variables (starting with R76242.01 and R76242.21) facilitate matching these mothers and daughters. More information about using these variables is provided in the Mature Women's Codebook SupplementAppendix 44 (PDF).
Survey Instruments: The child transfer information was collected in the "Intra-Family Transfers" section of the 1999 and 2003 questionnaires.