Communication with Kin in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic
extended family relations
New York City
Demography, Population, and Ecology
Family, Life Course, and Society
Social and Behavioral Sciences
This study investigates patterns of communication among non-coresident kin in the aftermath of a crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic – focusing on a representative sample of New York City residents from the Poverty Tracker survey. Over half of New Yorkers spoke to their non-coresident family members several times a week during the pandemic and nearly half reported that their communication with non-coresident kin increased since March 2020. Extended kin proved to be important with 27.57% of respondents reporting that they increased communication with at least one extended family member. However, the kin type that New Yorkers were most likely to report increased communication with were siblings, revealing the importance of these ties during times of crisis. Communication with kin varied by sociodemographic characteristics. Women spoke with family members outside of their household more frequently and had higher odds of reporting that their communication increased. There was little support for the oft-stated premise that disadvantaged families by race or social class display greater patterns of kin engagement. In fact, the findings point to the opposite conclusion that families with greater economic resources generally engage with both their nuclear and extended kin more frequently, illuminating patterns of inequality in access to kin resources that may extend well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, this study sheds light on an important yet oft-neglected driver of intra- and inter-generational inequalities, namely access to kin ties as a form of social capital to be activated and leveraged when need arises.