From the Inside Flap
The book explores in detail the extent to which adults contribute time to caregiving and social support, and the extent of their financial assistance to members of their families; the time given to volunteer work; and financial contributions to a variety of causes, charities, and organizations. The authors also examine how these contributions are affected by the time and effort required by job obligations, and they find that to the extent they are able, adults do provide emotional and social support, and even hands-on caregiving and financial help, to family and friends.
A major focus of the study is on age and gender differences, and midlife proves to be a watershed time of transition when civic activities increase as family obligations decline. For example, felt obligations to family members and to jobs decrease with age, while volunteer service increases with age. Less-educated adults give more of their time; better-educated adults give more money. Also, women give more time, and men more money when the sexes are compared. Between generations, social and emotional support is reciprocal, but reflecting the greatly improved finances of today's elderly, money flows largely from the elderly to the younger members of a family.
Americans work longer hours with shorter vacations than adults in any other Western society, and their labor combined with the taxes they pay are critical contributions to the larger society. And although Americans may have more fragile marriages and bear fewer children than ever, the ties between grandparents, parents, and children remain strong across our expanded life spans. All told, this important study adds a hopeful new voice to the overwhelmingly negative debate about the current state of our civic and social lives.