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Material inheritance transmission by older childless Portuguese adults

Daniela Silva (Department of Education and Psychology, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal)
Marta Patrão (Department of Social, Political and Territorial Sciences, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal)
Liliana Sousa (Department of Education and Psychology, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal and Cintesis@Rise)

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 30 April 2024




Material inheritance transmission is a normative task in later life that has been scarcely studied, particularly when involving older childless adults. This study aims to deepen the knowledge about the transmission of material inheritances by older (65+ years) childless Portuguese adults.


This qualitative exploratory study comprises 43 participants. A semi-structured interview was administered and submitted to content analysis.


Material inheritance transmission involves precipitant events (realizing they will not have children), deciding on content and moment (what and when), planning (getting legal advice, making a will and preventing family conflicts), distributing (usually based on values of reciprocity and strategic exchange) and resolution (marked by conflict).


Material inheritances have been mostly studied from economic and legal perspectives. This research examines material inheritances transmissions within family dynamics, showing that older childless individuals seem to use material inheritances in a strategic exchange way, to ensure they will be well cared for in old age.



Funding: This study was funded by FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P. and CINTESIS R&D Unit (UIDB/4255/2020 and UIDP/4255/20.


Silva, D., Patrão, M. and Sousa, L. (2024), "Material inheritance transmission by older childless Portuguese adults", Working with Older People, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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