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

Patterns of Intergenerational Solidarity in Europe

From cross-national studies like OASIS (Old age and autonomy: The role of service systems and intergenerational family solidarity) and SHARE (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe) a large body of literature dedicated to international comparisons in the field of intergenerational solidarity has emanated over the last decade. With regard to the crowding-in versus the crowding-out argument a lot of articles classify the European states in accordance to the extended welfare regime classification of Esping Andersen and hence distinguish between the 'social democratic' states of Scandinavia, the 'conservative' countries of Central Europe and the 'family-centered' Southern European nations.

Although the classification initially was developed for the comparison of welfare states it is applied by a lot of researchers in the context of intergenerational solidarity. Surprisingly, this often happens without theoretical reasoning and multivariate empirical validation. Our paper aims to tackle these two lacks.

Motivated by Reher's article on family ties in Western Europe, we are questioning the suitability of Esping-Andersen's classification in order to separate intergenerational solidarity regimes in Europe. Instead of his classification we suggest a much simpler division into just two regions: Southern European countries on the one hand and the center and the north of Europe on the other hand.

To uncover these intergenerational solidarity regimes within families in Europe, we use SHARE-data and hierarchical cluster analysis. The selection of cluster variables is based on the theoretical and empirical considerations of Bengtson and colleagues. Due to data restrictions we focus on the structural, the normative and the functional dimension of solidarity. Our findings suggest that Reher's rather simple approach is more appropriate to cluster European countries than Esping-Andersen's classification. Although the statistical stopping rules favor a two-cluster solution our results do not completely contradict the classical 'North - Continental - South'-classification. Hence, we argue that researchers should not use any classification without context-specific theoretical arguments and/or empirical findings justifying their decision.