Family Support and Youth Transitions to Adulthood: Unveiling Its Impact, Interdependence, and the Role of Young People

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Diana Dias de CARVALHO, CAPP, ISCSP, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Changes in transitions to adulthood have been associated with changes in families and in the support parents provide young people. Studies have stressed extended parenting and its role in enabling young people to experiment their education, labor, and life-style pathways with fewer risks. But research in this area has been insufficient. Youth and family support has been mainly focusing on housing provision in the parental home, rendering invisible many other forms of instrumental and emotional support, such as monetary transfers, advice, companionship, household chores or general caring. Studies have mainly looked upon this support in a unidimensional direction, with young people as receivers, and thus support provided from young people to their parents or family has not been addressed. Finally, although a life course perspective has been increasingly adopted to study youth trajectories, its linked lives nature has not been fully explored.

Using quantitative (n=2942) and qualitative (n=70) data from a cohort study on young people born in 1990 in Portugal (Porto), assessed at age 13, 17, 21 and 24, the aim of the paper is to explore and challenge understandings of intergenerational support during transitions to adulthood. Data regarding leaving parental home and its reasons, as well as financial and social support received and contributed by young people, will be presented. Moreover, case studies that illustrate the role of young people in family support will be shown.

Overall results stress: i) the need to further explore conceptualisations around intergenerational family support; ii) how this support can stress the impact of family background and reproduce inequalities on transition to adulthood pathways, especially in contexts where other support mechanisms are scant; iii) the interdependence of family and its members, especially in contexts under economic crisis; iv) and, the recognition of young people also as an active agent in providing family support.