Connecting Generations? Contacts Between Parents and Adult Children in a Mobile World

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ronny KONIG, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Bettina ISENGARD, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Marc SZYDLIK, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Intergenerational cohesion and support across the whole life course are important characteristics of parent-child relationships in contemporary societies. Next to financial support, care and help or support of grandchildren, contacts between parents and their adult children are another important form of intergenerational solidarity in contemporary societies. Thereby, different kinds of contacts as well as their frequency depend strongly on geographic proximity between adult generations. But nowadays in times of modernization, characterized by increasing social mobility, globalization and new technologies, families are able to face the challenge of greater geographical distances and time restrictions with various communication opportunities.

Although contacts between parents and their offspring are not only relevant for the individuals themselves but also for society in general (e.g. social isolation in advanced age), little is yet known about the determinants, country-specific differences and especially changes over time. Due to the relevance of intergenerational contacts as a relevant precondition for many other forms of (functional) solidarity, the presentation addresses contact frequencies in an international and time-related perspective. Based on the 4th and 5th waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (2010-2013) including 13 countries, namely Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland the research questions are: (1) How intense are parent-child-contacts in general and (2) especially over time? Furthermore, using a two-wave-panel design embedded in a multilevel setting, the paper addresses the following specific questions: (3) Which micro-, meso- and macro-structural changes can explain an intensification or reduction of intergenerational contacts in European families and (4) can the usage of modern technologies such as the internet contribute an environment for maintaining or even intensifying intergenerational contacts over distances between parents and children?