Intergenerational Solidarity and Transnational Familial Care: The Case of Lithuanian Migrant Families

Monday, 16 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Irena JUOZELIUNIENE, Vilnius University, Lithuania
Irma BUDGINAITĖ, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania
This paper aims to examine how intergenerational solidarity contributes to organization of familial care across borders. Familial care is the main source of social care for elderly in Lithuania. Since accession to the EU in 2004, families face new challenges due to the emigration of working age adult children, elderly family members stay living ‘at home’. Elderly people play a dual role in migrant families. On the one hand, close kin, especially grandparents, become involved in childcare arrangements across borders and are seen by migrants as a familial resource helping to cope successfully with the hardships. On the other, migrants confront the dilemma of needing to transfer grandparents to a destination country or organizing care at home country.

Transnational families remain unacknowledged as a new family type in the national legislation and public discourse; the policy measures to support them remain scarce and unsystematic. Therefore, intergenerational solidarity is the major source of support within families and, as such, is fundamental for understanding the circulation of emotional support, instrumental help and financial security.

To analyse how intergenerational relations are maintained across borders and in which ways care is provided for/by older parents in long-distance family situations, we build on intergenerational solidarity approach, broadening the focus to include relations with close kin, and view family relations through the lens of transnational care chains and renegotiation of family responsibilities. We draw insights from two representative surveys of Lithuanian population (aged 15 to 74) carried out in 2013 (N=1016) and 2017 (N=1400) in the network of the project financed by Research Council of Lithuania. The questionnaires integrate part of an international comparative study VOC-IR questionnaire on intergenerational solidarity.

The data reveal how experience of migration re-defines relational networks, which way intergenerational solidarity contributes to re-organization of familial care, and how care networks are gendered.