Downward transfers: Financial support for children and grandchildren
Igel, Corinne Igel
Institute of Sociology University of Zurich Zurich, Switzerland
Deindl, Christian Deindl
Sociological Institut of Zurich University of Zurich Zurich, Switzerland
A continuously ageing society and concerns about the future of the welfare state sociological research on family solidarity becomes an important and largely discussed topic. Consequently, studies concerning intergenerational relations often deal with transfers from the younger to the elderly. However, a closer look at the net transfer flows shows that the elderly give more than they receive, which mainly can be ascribed to livelong financial support which parents provide to their children and grandchildren. These transfers are thereby enormously heterogeneous: They are made because of different reasons as well as at different points in time of the life course of the giver and receiver.
In our research we compare financial transfers to children and grandchildren in Europe in order to capture important differences concerning the opportunity and need structures of financial flows, as well as diverse objectives for financial gifts. Additionally, empirical work has shown that in Europe substantial country differences in terms of economic transfers exist, which can be linked to the multitude of European welfare state arrangements and family policies. Concerning financial transfers the question arises, how social security systems enable the older generation to give economic support to their children and grandchildren and strengthen family solidarity. Additionally, public support to young people and families might reshape the need situations of the potential receivers of financial downward transfers and influence intergenerational solidarity. In our research we consequently analyse which country specific differences exist and estimate multilevel regression models to test the effect of cultural-contextual structure on downward financial transfers.
The analyses are based on the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland). They show that the influence of opportunity, need and family structures on financial transfers to children and grandchildren differ from each other and that different institutional contexts lead to various levels of downward financial flows.