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Intergenerational Relations in European Context


Fri 28. 8.  16:00 - 17:30
room FA 203

Between Bottom-Up and Top-Down: Intergenerational Solidarity of the Middle Generation in Europe


Isengard, Bettina; König, Ronny; Szydlik, Marc
University of Zurich, Switzerland

Intergenerational support is an important characteristic of parent-child relationships in contemporary ageing societies, especially in times of societal crises and the withdrawal of the welfare state. Despite the consequences of social and demographic changes during the last decades, the social relations and bonds between adult family generations are impressively strong. Of special importance is the ‘middle generation’, having both older parents and adult children. Against this background, the proposed presentation addresses intergenerational solidarity of 50-70-year-old Europeans. The focus is on those respondents who at the same time support both their parents and adult children, in other words: bottom-up and top-down. We will investigate all forms of functional solidarity, namely space, time (help, care and grandchild care) and money. The analyses are based on the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) including 14 European countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The empirical results reveal the importance of intergenerational support – including space, time and money – in all European societies. Yet, there are striking differences between the countries in regard to functional solidarity in general and the specific transfer patterns in particular. The empirical results show that opportunities and needs of givers and recipients as well as family structures are crucial for explaining differences between the transfer directions (bottom-up, top-down or both) and the various forms of functional solidarity.