Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 348–359 | Cite as

Should Parents Financially Support their Adult Children? Normative Views in Australia

  • Deirdre DrakeEmail author
  • Justine Dandy
  • Jennifer M. I. Loh
  • David Preece
Original Paper


Social welfare policies generally assume that parents remain responsible for adult children. Recent social changes in industrialized nations, however, have rendered family obligation norms more complex. We examined 300 Australians’ norms concerning parents’ obligations to support adult children financially. Utilizing a quasi-experimental design, we investigated the extent to which respondents agreed that parents should support adult children, and the influence of situational factors. More respondents were in favor of assisting adult children than against, but there was no consensus as to what parents should do. Respondents generally agreed on factors that should be considered, then attempted to balance parental responsibility norms with adult independence norms. Parental help was more strongly endorsed when need was considered legitimate, and when the adult child was younger. Implications for Australian social policy are discussed.


Social norms Parent–child relations Financial support Transition to adulthood Intergenerational support 



This research was funded in part by a small grant from the University where the authors are employed.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Arts and HumanitiesEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia

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