Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)

Photographer: Gerard van Hees

Ms K.L. (Kirsten) van Houdt

  • Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
    Programme group: Institutions, Inequalities and Life courses
  • Visiting address
    REC BC
    Nieuwe Achtergracht 166  
  • Postal address:
    Postbus  15508
    1001 NA  Amsterdam

Kirsten van Houdt is a PhD candidate at the programme group Institutions, Inequalities and Life courses (IIL) at the Sociology Department of the University of Amsterdam. She is affiliated with the AISSR ( Her PhD project is embedded in the ERC advanced grant Family Complexity ( which focuses on the increasing complexity of family ties resulting from the Second Demographic Transition. In her four-year PhD project she will research intergenerational solidarity in non-traditional families (e.g. exchange of support, closeness between stepparents and stepchildren).

Kirsten holds a Bachelor in Sociology (Utrecht University, University of Cologne) and a Master’s degree in Sociology and Social Research (Utrecht University).


PhD project: Intergenerational solidarity in an era of family complexity.

This project focuses on an important consequence of the SDT: the increasing complexity of family relationships. Due to the increase in divorce and remarriage, ties between parents and adult children have become increasingly diverse. Divorce can occur at any age during the child’s life. Children may have been raised partly by one, partly by the other parents; they may have been exposed to stepparents, being it co-resident or at a distance; they may have shared households with step- or halfsiblings. Likewise, parents could have seen partners and children enter and leave their lives and households given the instability of family life. How do does this complex structure of family ties translate to closeness and exchange of support within the family when children have reached adulthood? What is the role of biological relatedness, co-residence, and the family network?
In collaboration with CBS, we collect unique data among (step)parents and their adult children in a multi-actor design, which allows us to take unobserved heterogeneity between families into account. Theoretically, the study of family complexity yields unique opportunities to test ideas about the nature of intergenerational relationships and will shed new light on the traditional dichotomy of social vis-à-vis biological bases of intergenerational relationships.

Supervision: Prof. dr. Matthijs Kalmijn and dr. Katya Ivanova 


  • van Houdt, K., Kalmijn, M., & Ivanova, K. O. (2018). Family complexity and adult children’s obligations: The role of divorce and co-residential history in norms to support parents and stepparents. European Sociological Review, 34(2), 169-183.
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