Multigenerational households in Southern Europe – new forms of solidarity or traditional living arrangements? An approach based on census micro data

Sabine Springer, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

The cohabitation of more than one generation of adults in a same household is a specific form of intergenerational relations that might reflect traditional forms of the organization of family life. But this type of living arrangement might also be a response to the vagaries of modern life (divorce, unemployment, …) by sticking together to face either a difficult temporary situation or to more permanent difficulties. It can also reflect particular circumstances such as the economic and socio-cultural context. This cohabitation can be a voluntary choice or it can be imposed. Traditionally, multi-generational households have been considered as a specificity of southern European countries because of their agricultural past, the strong influence of the Catholic Church and the weakness of the welfare state and of its institutions. But is this still the case today? How has this household type evolved in respect to its importance and its structure? In order to answer these questions we use census micro data of Portugal, Spain, France and Greece provided by the Integrated European Census Micro database to make a detailed inventory of the structures of multigenerational households and of their evolution during the last 20 to 30 years. Based on the characteristics of the household as a whole, but also of its members and of the housing unit, we try to develop a typology in order to distinguish different forms of multigenerational living arrangements. This typology will then serve to compare multigenerational cohabitation by residential context (urban, rural), by the characteristics of the reference person of the household and of the other members across time and space. France will be used as a benchmark, representing western European household types, in order to verify the perception of a higher incidence of multi-generational households in southern countries.

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Presented in Session 98: Living arrangements and coresidence

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