Family constellations in Europe: evidence from the GGS

Allan Puur, Estonian Interuniversity Population Research Centre
Luule Sakkeus, Estonian Interuniversity Population Research Centre, Tallinn University

Research on the demographic foundations of family change has drawn attention to multiple ways of how the developments in mortality, fertility and related processes produce major shifts in the family structures. The present study, conducted in the framework of FP7 Multilinks project, aims to complement research on the topic by analyzing the data from the Generations and Gender Survey for seven countries of Europe. In the study, the evidence concerning availability of kin above (parents and grandparents) and below (children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren) the reference generation is combined to highlight the patterns of family structure in which individuals are embedded at various stages of the life course. The results cast light on the ways how the existing diversity in demographic regimes comes together into specific patterns of intergenerational structures across Europe. The analysis reveals that the patterning of these structures is not always straightforward. The variation in generational distance set by the timing of childbearing, and differential advances in longevity produce combinations that may leave the countries with highly contrasting demographic history with a closely similar vertical “depth” of the family constellation. The results also indicate a possibility that under certain demographic scenarios, the secular trends towards vertical extension of the family constellation may become to a halt or even reverse temporarily.

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Presented in Session 83: Intergenerational family ties in Europe: Multiple linkages between individuals, families and social contexts

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