Media Release

Study shows adult kids who get parental cash aren’t happier or healthier

ContactsJoanne Peckitt, Communication and Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator
Toan Nguyen, BCEC PhD Scholar
Published13 September 2018

Adult children who have access to the ‘bank of mum and dad’ do not exhibit better health and wellbeing than those who do not receive financial support from their parents, new research led by Curtin University has found.

The research, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, examined the impact of intergenerational financial transfers, including inheritance payments and parental cash transfers from living parents, on the general, mental and physical health of their adult children.

Lead author Professor Rachel Ong ViforJ, from the School of Economics, Finance and Property at Curtin University, said economic strain was a significant life stress that caused many poor health outcomes among Australians.

“Some people have few economic concerns, no matter what their personal income or level of debt is, because they are able to access family wealth via inheritances or through parental cash transfers from surviving parents, which can have a significant advantage on those fortunate enough to be a beneficiary,” Professor ViforJ said.

“By using data from the 2001-2015 Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey, Australia’s first nationally representative longitudinal dataset, we aimed to assess whether there was a link between inheritances and parental cash transfers and positive health and wellbeing.

“Our research found that inheritance payments, as well as parental cash transfers, did not have any impact on the general, physical and mental health and perceived financial security of male and female beneficiaries in Australia.”

Professor ViforJ explained further research was needed to assess the link between the two factors, but the findings could help shed light on the importance of the different financial channels available to the Australia population.

“Previous associations found between family wealth and health are likely to have flowed through non-financial channels such as inherited characteristics, acquired skills and social capital, rather than financial transfers,” Professor Ong said.

The research, partly funded by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, was co-authored by Dr Garth Kendall from the School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Paramedicine and Mr Toan Nguyen from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre at Curtin.