Intergenerational relations and support in Italy at old ages

Romina Fraboni, Instituto Nazionale di Statistica (ISTAT)
Barbara Baldazzi, Instituto Nazionale di Statistica (ISTAT)
Cristina Freguja, Instituto Nazionale di Statistica (ISTAT)
Linda Laura Sabbadini, Instituto Nazionale di Statistica (ISTAT)

Recent decades have been characterised by declining fertility rates and increasing longevity in Italy. As a consequence family and relationship structures have been modified and these changes place greater pressure on informal support networks. In this study we mainly refer to the paradigm of intergenerational solidarity, based on 6 dimensions of the social network (structure, association, functions, affection, consensus and norms) (Bengtson, 1996) and take into account the peculiarity of the Italian family, i.e. the existence of strong family ties between generations (Micheli, 2000). This paper aims at analysing the intergenerational support in which people older than 65 are involved. Data used are based on the Multipurpose household surveys on “Family and social subjects” carried out in 2003 in Italy on a sample of 24,000 households. By means of a logistic regression analysis we study the probability to be a care giver and to live in a family receiving support from non co-resident people. The main purpose here is to study the effect of the network density (the frequency of contacts with non-coresident relatives and other family members) and that of the network proximity (the geographical distance with non-coresident relatives and other family members). Then we also applied an exploratory analysis to shed light on the main characteristics of the care givers, and, according to their profiles, we cluster them into groups. The analysis put in evidence that the solidarity networks are still large, although starting to show signs of crisis. The needs of the elderly population have to “compete” with the necessity for care expressed by working mothers with children, towards which care givers are increasingly paying their attention. The old generations today take advantage of a protected welfare system that allow them to devote their help to young families and this may contrast with the expected situation for many of the future generations.

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Presented in Session 19: Demographic change and the family