Old age with and without children: economic implications in Italy

Maria-Letizia Tanturri, University of Pavia
Gustavo De Santis, Università di Messina
Chiara Seghieri, University of Florence

We investigate the association between the economic conditions in old age and a few covariates, among which past fertility, marital status and living arrangements. We do this for Italy, and we base our results on a cross sectional data source, the Bank of Italy Survey on Household Income and Wealth (SHIW) for the years 2000 and 2002. In Italy, having had children in one's adult years does not yield very significant economic benefits later in life. Although the income of old people with adult children is not particularly low, on average, assets are. Besides, ceteris paribus, co-residing (adult) children are associated with lower economic conditions in all senses, both objectively (equivalent income, poverty, assets) and subjectively. We argue that adult children who remain in their parental are basically those who fail to find their own way (a job, a house, etc), and in this case, it is their aged parents who support them economically. The opposite case, i.e. a relatively rich young adult hosting his/her parents in his/her home, and transferring resources "upwards", materialises far less frequently. Prospects are better when there are other grown-up members in the household (especially if males), when education is high, and when the household resides in the North of Italy. In Italy, too, as well as in other developed countries, own children do not contribute to economic well being in old age, and they may even make things worse.

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Presented in Poster Session 1