9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN01 Ageing in Europe

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Intergernerational Relationships: Solidarity Building II, C5.06

Intergenerational solidarity and parent-child proximity in Europe. A comparative analysis on the Gender and Generations Survey (GGS)

The geographic proximity between parents and their adult children is a key element of intergenerational solidarity. Not only does the actual level of care between parents and adult children depend on this geographic proximity. The geographical distance can itself be considered as an expression of intergenerational solidarity. This geographical distance between parents and their adult children knew some major changes during the past decades. The most drastic change from the perspective of intergenerational solidarity is the decline in multigenerational households as well as the increase of people living alone, especially at old age. From a pessimistic perspective, these changes would reflect ?the decline of the family?. On the other hand, more optimistic studies state that ?intimate but distant? relationships still allow for high levels of support. Furthermore there is a high degree of diversity in the geographical distance between parents and their adult children across Europe. Intergenerational co-residence is higher in the southern and eastern Europe, whereas in the northern and western Europe intergenerational co-residence as well as living close to one?s parents is less likely. Generally, these changes raise the question whether the geographical distance between parents and their adult children (still) reflects intergenerational solidarity? To which degree does the potential need for support as well as the norms versus intergenerational support explain the geographic proximity? Does this differ within and between countries? Explicit attention is paid to the reciprocal nature of family relations as both the respondents need and the parental need are considered. Other features which are taken into account are the socio-economic resources, the marital history of both the respondent and the parents, the number of siblings, gender and age. For the analyses data from the Generations and Gender Survey are used. The cross-national nature of this data offers the possibility to test for macro differences with regard to geographic proximity and its antecedents within Europe since the countries strongly differ with respect to their culture, demography, political history and economic prosperity.