Ambivalence and transnational intergenerational solidarity: the perspective of highly educated Portuguese women emigrant daughters

A. S. Santos*, J. McGarrigle, C. Barros, I. Albert, E. Murdock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Existing literature has highlighted solidarity across generations as a crucial mechanism for transfers and maintaining cohesion within families. However, researching solidarity across generations among transnational families is still an underexplored area, especially from the viewpoint of highly skilled female migrants. This study explored the way highly educated Portuguese adult daughters, living transnationally, perceive the existing solidarity ties with their parents, in times of transition, such as during the process of migration. By using a cluster analysis approach to explore the statistical associations between ambivalence and intergenerational solidarity dimensions, this study provides insight into the migrant solidarity types incorporating the role of ambivalence in forging a typology of transnational intergenerational relationships. The sample comprised 248 daughters who volunteered to provide information in an online survey. Participants gave their full consent to partake in this study, and this study was approved by the ethical committee of the authors’ institution. Measures of intergenerational solidarity dimensions, perceived ambivalence, sociocultural adaptation, acculturation, and social well-being in the destination country were included in the survey. Model-based cluster analysis resulted in three clusters: low ambivalence with strong cohesion, autonomous with affection and low ambivalence, and ambivalent functional ties with low affection. These clusters differed significantly in terms of intergenerational solidarity dimensions, perceived ambivalence, and in several other measures addressed. Perceived high parent-daughter ambivalent ties were associated with high levels of functional contacts and financial exchange. That pattern was also associated with lower levels of affection and consensus, being most frequently found in older daughters, mostly when single, economically inactive, or unemployed. Low perceived ambivalent parent-daughter ties were the most frequently found (around 80%), with two different types of intergenerational relationships being revealed, namely the low ambivalence with strong cohesion type and the autonomous with affection and low ambivalence type. Half (50%) of the daughters that perceived low parent-daughter ambivalent ties have associated the highest intergenerational solidarity, being, in general, better adapted to the migration context and slightly younger on average. The other half, less well acculturated, living abroad for longer, in countries with stronger welfare state systems and less reliance on families as providers of care, are more associated with an autonomous relationship type with low solidarity, but high affection. These results suggest that there might be a spillover effect: those who fare well in the country of migration, have better relations with their families at home—either being very interdependent or very independent, but always with good affective quality and low ambivalence.
Original languageEnglish
Article number240
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2024


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