Great-grandparent: a non-existing family role? A French example
University of Burgundy Franche-Comté, France
In 1992 A. Cherlin and F. Furstenberg observed a lack of role for great-grandparents due to an “extreme age gap” (p. 92), accentuated by the fact that the grandparent role is already occupied by the children of great-grandparents. At the same period C. Attias-Donfut and M. Segalen (1997) made the same observation in France. These statements should be re-examined at least for two reasons. Firstly, in the both cases authors produce a rather uniform image of great-greatparenting as “the oldest old” while demographic data show that 10% of French women are already great-grandmothers at the age of 70 and by 83, half of them access to this new statute (Cassan & all., 2001). Secondly, since the 1990s the life expectancy (and also the one without incapacity) has increased in France (INSEE), while the age of retirement is being postponed. These two trends might question the lack of role for great-grandparents.
In this communication I analyze 12 family monographs gathered in 2007-2011 and present the first results of an on-going exploratory research within 10 families belonging to different social groups in which I crosscut biographical interviews with different generations. I will question how different styles of great-grandparenting are produced by different social factors. The first analysis shows that, on the one hand, in the families where one of the intermediate generations is unavailable (due to a death, geographical or relational distance or professional activity), great-grandparents may take part in childcare even for very young children. On the other hand, the relation history of young parents with their grandparents also influences the role the latter can play for their great-grandhcildren.
Social Inequalities in Support Patterns Between Multiple Generations in Europe Over Time
1TU Dortmund, Germany; 2HHU Duesseldorf, Germany; 3TU Dortmund, Germany (from April 2019)
Family members support each other across the entire family cycle. Parents help their adult children with financial transfers and hands-on-support and childcare, while children in mid-life often support their older parents with help and care. However, profound social inequalities linked to different need and opportunity structures as well as public transfers within different contexts are suspected. While there is some research on each aspect separately, and some research on the connections between certain transfer types at certain family stages, there is still no conclusive study bringing together all different support types between multiple generations from different social backgrounds over time. In our view, taking a longitudinal multi-generational perspective is essential to capture dependencies and negotiations within families from different socio-economic backgrounds within different regional contexts. If middle-aged parents have to take care of their own older parents, they have fewer resources for their (grand-)children, who might then receive less attention and support from them. This may differ according to access to support from public or private institutions. Here, country and regional specifics have a huge impact on support patterns within the family, which can only be captured when looking into developments and change. Using six waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), we look at intergenerational transfers between multiple generations over time across European regions, considering mid-aged Europeans in the “sandwich” position between older parents and children and include multiple transfer directions and types over time to assess the links between social inequality, changes on the family and country level, and intergenerational solidarity in Europes ageing societies.
The Relationship Between Childhood Socio-Economic Circumstances And Intergenerational Solidarity In Later Life: Socialisation Versus Resources.
University Of Antwerp, Belgium
When an elderly parent becomes frail and dependent, it is mostly their spouse or their adult children who become care providers. Previous inquiry about upward intergenerational solidarity shows that the probability of caregiving of adult children strongly depends on one’s gender and socioeconomic status. This has been explained in terms of social exchange or family norms. However, these studies neglect an unexplored, but important part of the life course, i.e. a person’s childhood. The formative years is a very important period in which a child is socialized and where, among other things, filial norms and expectations with regard to care are shaped.
By using cumulative inequality theory, we examine to what extent the socioeconomic position in childhood has a lasting impact on the probability of informal caregiving in a later stage of the life course, i.e. when adult children’s parents become care-dependent. Furthermore, we investigate the association both between childhood and current SES and caregiving at present. In this way, we gain insight in the relationship between one’s social mobility patterns and caregiving.
Our data stems from both the fifth and sixth wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement (SHARE), complemented with the corresponding retrospective modules on childhood. Empirical results were derived from multivariate analysis techniques. The paper will present the first results from these analyses.
The importance of Relationship History for Provision of Informal Care to Parents. A 10-year Follow-up of Middle-aged Daughters and Sons in Norway
NOVA, OsloMet, Norway
In Norway, elder care is considered a state responsibility, and older people in need of help are thus entitled to receive help from public services. Nonetheless, a large share of adult daughters and sons provide help and care to their parents. One explanation may be that the two generations have a long lasting close relationship and that children help their parents out of affection and love. Another reason for helping may be the adherence to filial responsibility norms – a perception that children ought to help parents in need of care.
This study takes a longitudinal approach in order to investigate whether previous attitudes towards filial responsibility and relationship history (i.e. earlier perceived quality of the relationship and contact patterns) matter for current provision of regular help and care to parents. The analyses are based on data from two waves of the Norwegian Life course, Ageing and Generation Study (2007 and 2017) and include 899 daughters and 840 sons aged 50 and older. The results of the analyses show that when analysed over time, there is no association between earlier filial responsibility norms and current provision of help and care. Perceived quality of the relationship and contact patterns ten years earlier on the other hand, matters for parent care, both for daughters and for sons.
The Norwegian welfare state model allows for more independent and choice-based intergenerational relations. The results indicate that in such a context, relationship history is important for middle-aged children’s provision of help and care to parents.
Multi-Generational Care, Intergenerational Ambivalence and Prioritisation of Care.
1University of Bristol, United Kingdom; 2National Yokohama University, Japan
This paper deals with upward and downward intergenerational ambivalence and the prioritisation of care through the experience of carers those we are simultaneously providing care for both elder and younger generations in the middle of multi-generational and multi-fields of caring relationships. The ageing of the population and the rising average age of mothers at the time of child bearing suggest these so called sandwich generations are increasingly becoming common in advanced economies.
A theoretical framework is developed by combining two perspectives on intergenerational relationships and care. The first perspective concerns the social norms on intergenerational and multi-generational care that individual internalise, family relationships impose and society addresses (e.g., Pfau-Effinger 2005). The second examines configurations of family policies (e.g., Saraceno and Keck 2011) that influences upon their practice of multi-generational care giving.
Drawing on original data generated from a mixed approach of questionnaire surveys (9,224 samples), semi-structured interviews (32 samples) and focus groups interviews (6 groups) in Japan, the empirical analysis first presents the meaning and practice of multi-generational caring relationships, and second the evidence of both upward and downward intergenerational ambivalence. Thirdly it investigates whether structural contradictions (family policy frameworks, economic conditions and social norms) that confront individuals in certain situations cause ambivalent attitudes towards the elder generation, the younger generation or both, and how they interconnectedly influence upon carers/family’s practice of prioritisation among different types of care. Based on the findings, this paper concludes with examining its implications to the UK context.