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09-05-2018 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 8/2018

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 8/2018

Intergenerational Transmission of Work Values: A Meta-Analytic Review

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 8/2018
Zeynep Cemalcilar, Ekin Secinti, Nebi Sumer
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10964-018-0858-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Work values act as guiding principles for individuals’ work-related behavior. Economic self-sufficiency is an important predictor for psychological well-being in adulthood. Longitudinal research has demonstrated work values to be an important predictor of economic behavior, and consequently of self-sufficiency. Socialization theories designate parents an important role in the socialization of their children to cultural values. Yet, extant literature is limited in demonstrating the role families play on how youth develop agentic pathways and seek self-sufficiency in transition to adulthood. This study presents a meta-analytic review investigating the intergenerational transmission of work values, which is frequently assessed in terms of parent–child value similarities. Thirty studies from 11 countries (N = 19,987; Median child age = 18.15) were included in the analyses. The results revealed a significant effect of parents on their children’s work values. Both mothers’ and fathers’ work values, and their parenting behavior were significantly associated with their children’s work values. Yet, similarity of father–child work values decreased as child age increased. Our findings suggest a moderate effect, suggesting the influence of general socio-cultural context, such as generational differences and peer influences, in addition to those of parents on youth’s value acquisition. Our systematic review also revealed that, despite its theoretical and practical importance, social science literature is scarce in comprehensive and comparative empirical studies that investigate parent–child work value similarity. We discuss the implications of our findings for labor market and policy makers.

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