Does Inequality Matter? Intergenerational Relations in European Welfare States

Friday, July 18, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: F203
Oral Presentation
Bettina ISENGARD , Institute of Sociology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Ronny KÖNIG , Institute of Sociology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Intergenerational transfers of money, time and space are important features of parent-child relationships. Previous research reveals substantial differences in intergenerational solidarity, raising the question of causes and reasons for European divergences. Apart from inequality on the micro level, meso level structures (family) as well as macro level factors are important in order to understand different support levels of giving and taking money, time and space within and also between countries. While single types of solidarity have been predominantly analysed separately, a joint analysis is still missing.

Based on the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), 14 European countries are analysed to measure the impact of inequality structures on functional solidarity between parents and their adult children. Multilevel analyses including micro, meso and macro levels indicate that need and opportunity structures as well as variations in family composition and cultural-contextual differences between welfare state regimes matter for intergenerational relations. Children in need get more support than better situated offspring. Simultaneously, parents with better opportunity structures help more. Furthermore, we can observe that parents in low-level service states and high poverty and income inequality countries such as Poland, Italy and Spain predominantly support their adult children by providing living space, whereas in less familialistic and more generous welfare states such as the Netherlands, Denmark or Sweden parents rather provide time and monetary support. Our results moreover reveal that the provision of living space substitutes for time and financial transfers. The latter, however, do complement each other: children who receive time support from their parents often receive monetary help as well.