Intergenerational relations: theory, research, and policy

The dramatic increase in life expectancy and lowered fertility, especially in more advantaged countries, has resulted in people living longer and in more complex family structures. Other important changes affecting the family include greater geographical mobility, increased racial and ethnic diversity, new patterns of immigration and identity reformulation, as well as changing work and family roles. With reduced governmental resources available, it is especially important to understand the changing nature of multigenerational family structures, functioning, and roles in individual well-being in order to maximize the effectiveness of informal and formal supports available to those in need. This special issue addresses basic factors related to multigeneration support systems that will be needed to anticipate, understand, and design support programs to cope with the challenges facing individuals in all generation positions, families, and communities in the United States and around the world.