Demographic change and the acceptance of intergenerational-transfer policies. A comparison of 13 European countries

Harald Wilkoszewski, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Elena Muth, Rostock Center for the Study of Demographic Change

In light of population ageing and changing family structures across most of Europe, as well as the expansion of intergenerational-transfer policies (e.g. in the area of childcare), the question arises, how demographic change affects the future design of the social state. This paper therefore aims at analyzing preferences of different demographic groups with regard to transfer-related social policies in 13 European countries. It is based on data from the International Population Policy Acceptance Survey (IPPAS 2003) and focuses on attitudes towards 13 family policy reforms, which cover all dimensions of public transfers to the younger generation (money, time, education, housing). The main questions of interest to our analysis were: Do policy preferences differ across age, between parents and childless people, and between married and unmarried people? The results of the multivariate logistic regression models identify a clear effect of age, parenthood, and marital status for most countries under study. Strong age effects are found especially for policies providing financial assistance to families, parenthood has a significant effect on policy preferences across all transfer types. In general, the elderly are less in favour of public transfers to the young than the younger generation and prefer public transfer channelled to the older generation. Further, childless people are less in favour of public transfers to the young and more in favour of public upward transfers than parents. The role of marital status is slightly less pronounced. In the case of financial transfers to families, being married increases the odds to support these policies, whereas regarding care policies the effect is mostly reversed. Generally, all effects found appear to be stronger in Northern and Western European countries as compared to Eastern Europe and Cyprus. Among the Eastern European states, Poland, Hungary and at times also the Czech Republic are closest to their Western counterparts.

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Presented in Session 102: Policy implication of population ageing