Intergenerational Care and Welfare State Evolution: A Matthew Effect?

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 11:06
Oral Presentation
Matteo LUPPI, Collegio Carlo ALberto, Italy
Tiziana NAZIO, WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Germany
Demographic and societal changes are fuelling change in intergenerational relations. Ageing population, increased female labor market participation and shirking family size contribute to shift growing care loads on the shoulders of the middle-aged population. Providing care to older (parents) and younger (children and grandchildren) generations interests a growing share of European population. Using SHARE data we show how the “potential risk of intergenerational care”, i.e. the risk to be caring for both upper and lower generations at once, varies across European countries. Given a shorter duration to childbirth onset, the Nordic European countries display a larger share of middle-age population who can be potentially involved in bidirectional care relations compared to Southern ones. However, the latter are those in which family care is left to play a more substantial role. We address this paradox looking at how welfare state expenditure has been distributed among old and new social risks in the last decades. We show that differences in the “potential risk of intergenerational care” reflect how public expenditures have been distributed, horizontally, between welfare pillars, and vertically, between generations. We combine SHARE data and national macro data on welfare expenditures and demographic structures, investigating nineteen European countries grouped in different care regimes (Saraceno and Keck, 2010). Different targets of welfare state expenditure, across age-groups and welfare pillars, in the context of a progressive intergenerational inequality, have resulted, in some countries, in a cumulative (dis)advantage. One the one hand, relatively generous welfare provisions in times of better economic circumstances to those with fewer bidirectional intergenerational responsibilities; on the other hand, leaner provisions towards generations suffering worst economic prospects under a higher risk of growing intergenerational responsibilities.