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Family and Kinship Exchange Behavior

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ž What is the difference between a kinship unit and a consumption unit, and why is the difference important to an understanding of the family and household transition?

The difference is the effect of kinship exchange behavior upon household consumption is examined through a consideration of the family as a social unit embedded within the extended family network. It is important that understanding of the family and household transition because of a series of propositions are offered to explicate: 1) the influence of kinship structure and socioeconomic conditions on the extent to which families rely upon each other, 2) the relationship between kinship exchange behavior and family consumption, and 3) the conditions under which the kinship network may be the appropriate unit of analysis for the study of family consumption behavior. Specific examples are presented to illustrate the various aspects of kinship exchange during periods of crisis and life transition. Fundamental questions are raised concerning the generalizability of the nuclear family model in consumer research.

1. How do the differences in or changes in life chances for an individual affect the proximate determinants of his or her own family and household living arrangement? Pick one demographic characteristic such as education and discuss how different levels of that characteristic could affect the living arrangement choices that a person might make.

The choice of a living arrangement-as an independent household, with adult children or other related or unrelated persons, or in an institution-has many implications for the well-being of an elderly person. Changes in living arrangements are likely to be associated with changes in the level of care and assistance received by the elderly. Living with other family members eases situations of illness; living alone makes coping with illnesses harder. Thus, the choice of living arrangements has many external effects. Moreover, living arrangements commonly affect the elderly eligibility for certain types of government assistance, such as food stamps and supplemental Social Security, and induces demand for social support services such as district nursing, meals-on wheels, and so forth.

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