The future of family networks and the support of older people in Europe

Cecilia Tomassini, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Emily Grundy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Stamatis Kalogirou, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Joëlle Gaymu, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

In the short term the availability of children for older Europeans will generally increase, or at least proportions with no children will decrease, but in the longer term this pattern will be reversed.Apart from demographic availability, the extent of intergenerational support between adult children and elderly parents is known to vary and may change over time. We examine this by analysing variations between a selected group of European countries in the proportion of older people seeing a child (or other relative in the case of the childless) at least weekly. We also analyse parental characterisitcs associated with variations in levels of contact. The variations broadly support the common perceptions of higher levels of family exchange in Southern Europe. Some characteristics that are becoming more common in the older population, and the population as a whole, such as divorce and higher educational levels, are negatively associated with contact with children, in the former case generally just for fathers, except in Finland where an effect on contact of both fathers and mothers was found. We use these results to present some scenarios of contact patterns in the future.

Presented in Session 5: Future living conditions of elderly people in Europe