Role reversals in the exchange of social support.
We tested the assumption that there is a role reversal in exchanges of social support: that the older one becomes, the less likely one is to send support and more likely one is to receive it. Using data from a community study in Southern California with 513 middle-aged and older respondents, the results show that both support-sending and support-receiving decline with age. The respondents report giving more support than they receive until age 85+. Controls for income and activities of daily living extend the age at which role reversal occurs, and further controls for the number of people in the social network eliminate it. Examining different types of support and different sources of support shows that similar results apply to both affective and instrumental support, but that this pattern applies more to exchanges with family members, as all forms of role reversal are less likely in exchanges with nonfamily.
Morgan, DL; Schuster, TL; Butler, EW
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