Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN01_01c: Social Networks and Intergenerational Relations in old Age
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Anna Urbaniak, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology
Location: UP.3.209
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road

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Intergenerational Solidarity in European Welfare States: Older Parents as Support Network?

Bettina Isengard, Ronny König, Marc Szydlik

University of Zurich, Switzerland

Intergenerational support across the whole life course is an important characteristic of parent-child relationships in contemporary aging societies, especially in times of societal crises and the withdrawal of welfare states. Despite the consequences of social and demographic changes over the last decades, the relations and bonds between parents and their children are impressively strong. While from a societal point of view, financial transfers mainly flow from younger to older generations, private monetary support within families shows an opposite direction, namely from the older to the younger family generations. Furthermore, it seems that within intergenerational kinship networks, giving and receiving of support is more complex and less univocal than within society.

Against this background, the paper investigates which indicators at the individual, family as well as societal level promote or prevent the extent and distribution of monetary transfers from older parents to adult children. The analyses are based on the fifth and sixth wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) including 19 countries. Descriptive findings and multilevel analyses show that parents serve as an important support network for their descendants. However, there are crucial differences between individuals, families, and societies. Furthermore, the analyses indicate a perpetuation of social inequality over generations and even a cumulation of (dis)advantages across the life course. Financial resources and wealth largely remain in higher-class families and are transmitted over generations. In this respect, life chances of the younger, receiving generation strongly depends on the resources and solidarity of the older generation.

Social Capital Of Older Migrants, And Its Consequences For Well-Being: A Study On Share Data

Pryanka Boerio

University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

The number of seniors in Europe is rapidly growing. This increase is even more important when focussing on older migrants. Between 2010 and 2015, non-native people over 55 years increased by 50% in countries like Finland, Portugal and Luxemburg. In this context, issues concerning older migrants’ social inclusion are becoming crucial.

Social Capital’s (SC) approach is widely used in social inclusion studies of older people; while it has not been used as much in the literature on migrants’ seniors and future seniors. The aim of this study is to fill those gaps in the literature, showing what kind of SC (bonding or bridging) allows the seniors or aging migrant to maximise their health and well-being. The analysis is conducted separately for migrants from High Income Countries and from Low and Middle Income Countries. Here I refer to a micro-level SC approach, following the definition of Van der Gaag and Snijder (2004). With the aim of isolating the effect given by the place of birth, a comparison with the native populations is performed.

I perform this study at the European level using data from the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe dataset (wave 6), and I created a measure of individual SC, which covers many of the dimensions identified in the literature (e.g. support, participation, social network). I performed regression models with interaction terms and, in order to check the macro level effects, I clustered countries by the expenditure (Purchasing Power Standard) on social protection on old age function.

Time to Others and Time for Oneself: Strategies of Resistance in Old Age

Stefania Fucci, Anna Rosa Favretto

University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy

Sociological literature has shown that the meaning attributed to ‘feeling good’ and ‘feeling bad’ regards physical, psychological and relational aspects. This is especially relevant for women and the elderly population. For the latter, in particular, it seems that the inclusion in family, friendship, volunteering and active citizenship networks can improve the perception of individual well-being and quality of life. On the basis of this premise, we will present the results of a pilot research investigating the strategies that the elderly, both men and women, put in place to improve the quality of their existence and the perception of their ‘feeling good’. Our study, conducted in a holiday residence for elderly people, has highlighted the existence of strategies and negotiations not only to maintain and increase relationships, but also to bring them to a greater balance when they are perceived as excessively burdensome and invasive compared to the daily life of elderly people themselves. Actually, relationality has been described, especially by women, as a requirement for the protection of the quality of life on one side, and implying a significant emotional burden and excessive demands related to their role of caregiver within the family and among friends on the other. Our research has found that activities focused on the self are consciously used by older people to distance themselves from family care commitments, as much as rewarding social activities that allow recovery of physical and emotional energies do.

Regular Grandchild Care and Grandparents' Labour Supply in Europe

Ginevra Floridi

London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

Grandparental childcare has consistently been found to facilitate young parents’ participation in the labour market. However, its relationship with grandparents’ own labour supply in Europe is understudied. I use data from 20 countries in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe to investigate the relationship between regular grandchild care provision and two employment outcomes for grandparents aged 50–69: the probability of working, and, among those who work, the average weekly working hours. Unlike previous studies, I take actual grandchild care provision rather than grandparent status as the main explanatory variable, and I adopt a recursive bivariate modelling approach to account for the selection of grandparents with different unobserved traits into work and grandchild care. Moreover, I test for differences in the structural association by grandparents’ sex and educational attainment. The results indicate that grandmothers who regularly look after young grandchildren are as likely to work as those who do not, but have lower average working hours if employed. By contrast, grandfathers are unlikely to combine paid work with regular grandchild care provision. These differences reflect the unequal prevalence and utilisation of flexible working arrangements between men and women in Europe. For both sexes, the conflict between grandchild care and labour supply is only manifested among lower-educated grandparents. This suggests the existence of socioeconomic inequalities in work-family reconciliation among European grandparents.