Transfers of time and money among elderly Europeans and their children: Common patterns – different regimes?
Title: Transfers of time and money among elderly Europeans and their children: Common patterns – different regimes?
Series/Report no.: 2006/76; Research Group on Ageing and the Life Course, Research Report
The ‘generational contract’ is the most important and also the most contentious dimension of contemporary welfare systems. Much of the discussion on how to reform it is still truncated, however, by focussing on its public dimension only, especially on oldage pensions and health care costs. For a full account, the transfer of resources between generations in the family needs to be included as well. So far, research on family transfers has almost exclusively been limited to single-country studies. In this paper, we present a comparative study of financial transfers and social support in ten Western European countries based on the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) conducted in 2004. Our results confirm, at the European level, the existence of a common transfer pattern. There is a net downward flow from the older to the younger generations, both by inter vivos financial transfers and by social support. Transfers from the parents to their children are much more frequent and also usually much more intense than those in the opposite direction. The positive balance decreases with age but even those beyond age 70 clearly remain net givers. Our results also demonstrate that countryspecific transfer patterns follow the typology of welfare regimes Transfers from parents to children are less frequent but more intense in the Southern European countries than in the Nordic ones, with the Continental European countries being somewhere in-between the two. This welfare regime effect still holds after controlling for the most relevant characteristics of the parents.
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