9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS15 Rethinking intergenerational transmission of inequalities

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Changing Patterns of Inequalities Building II, C6.09

On inequality of intergenerational transfers: Baby boomers as helpers of their children

On inequality of intergenerational transfers: baby boomers as helpers of their children


In a study of intergenerational transfers between baby boomers (age cohorts 1945-50) and their children (born mostly 1965-85) in Finland, a very strong asymmetry is revealed: the (adult) children of baby boomers receive much more practical and financial help than what they give. On the other hand, they help their friends a lot, and rather symmetrically.

From the point of view of their economic situation and the level of education, which generally would enable the children of baby boomers to help, this is surprising. However, the results confirm the intergenerational expectations regarding obligations to help: baby boomers do not expect help whereas their children expect help from both parents and their own children. Baby boomers give financial transfers exclusively to their children but help a broader group of relatives in practical matters. Their children receive help from all kinds of relatives and friends. The results are discussed as an effect of age, a generational effect (in the sense that baby boomers and their children belong to different social generations), and from the point of view of altruistic help between parents and children.

The data stems from a representative survey of baby boomers and their actual children in Finland in 2007 and is complemented with in-depth interviews with members of selected
families, whose helping traditions diverge strongly. These will be used both in explaining the results and specifying the actual inequalities in intergenerational transmissions