Familial support arrangements and late life social integration: a comparative perspective

Jenny Gierveld, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Pearl Dykstra, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Niels Schenk, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Nowadays demographers and other social scientists discuss the sharp differentiation between regions in Europe: for example, Reher (1998) contrasted Southern Europe where the family and family ties are ‘strong’ with Western and Northern Europe, where families and family ties are relatively ‘weak’. They base their theoretical ideas on differences in family attitudes and on varying percentages of older adults either living independently or co-residing with adult children. In this paper we address the empirical basis of differentiations between European regions as far as the familial position of older adults is concerned and the outcomes of family embedment for loneliness among older adults. Data come from the UN Generations and Gender Surveys, and encompass the Netherlands, France, Germany, Bulgaria, Russia and Georgia; sample sizes vary between 8.161 and 12.828. Main variables investigated are: filial attitudes, differences in the realization of co-residence or living alone, the frequency of contacts with children, and the quality of relationships with the children. Moreover, a typology of country level differences in familial support arrangements, based on the outcomes of Latent Class Analyses, are taken into account. Outcomes of multivariate analyses show that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe differ significantly from the countries in Western Europe in types of living arrangements, familial attitudes, but also in country level familial support arrangements. Variations between countries and within countries have to be taken into account in explaining the outcomes of family support for social embedment and loneliness of older adults.

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