The distribution of labour in local support networks involving older people: a comparative approach

Philip Kreager, Oxford Institute of Ageing
Elisabeth Schroeder-Butterfill, Oxford University

This paper draws on longitudinal research on older people and their families in three rural Indonesian communities. These populations contain both nuclear family systems nested in bilateral kindreds, and extended lineage networks. Contrasting adaptive patterns raise questions that bear on support patterns in Europe. The principal focus is on networks in which older people continue to play a major role, or in which this role has recently changed. The methodology combines in-depth life histories with two rounds of representative surveys, enabling changes in network composition and in the structure of support roles to be documented. Networks do not exist merely for old age support, they distribute collective resources amongst all members. Networks respond adaptively to several simultaneous needs, as well as needs of differing duration and severity. Primary attention will be given to quantitative patterns emerging from the data, including effects of migration and role substitution.

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Presented in Session 48: Cross cultural perspectives on resources and wellbeing in later life