Support and well-being of parents and childless people in older age: a gender comparison for three ex-socialist European countries

Cristina Oaneş-Faludi, Babes-Bolyai University

This study is based on data resulted from the first wave of “Generations and Gender Survey” (United Nations, 2005). Our analyses concentrate on three Eastern European countries – Bulgaria, Romania and Russia – focusing on men and women aged 65 years or older. We are interested in two forms of living arrangements of parents with non-resident child(ren) and childless people (living alone or with partner), aiming to illustrate the similarities and disparities regarding the self-rated health, the social support in personal care, and the subjective well-being (positive and negative affects). This preliminary study offers an exploratory and descriptive analysis of data. Living alone is more prevalent for women, Romania having the highest weight of lonely childless females, and Russia the highest percent of lonely mothers. Men living with partner and with non-resident children strongly exceeds the value for women, Bulgarian men taking the leading position. Self-rated health reveals the highest values of “bad health” for lone old women, both childless and with non-resident children in all three countries. It seems that being childless and living with partner favours “good health”, at least for Bulgarian and Romanian women. Instead, we cannot identify a consistent pattern among old men. Childless elderly need more help for personal care, regardless leaving arrangement, gender, and country. Old people rely more on informal support than on specialized help, and childless women with partner are involved at the highest level in providing help with personal care to others. Subjective well-being also presents variations and similarities by gender, living arrangements and having or not children. Alone old women from all three countries – childless or not – report in a greater extend the sense of emptiness and missing people around, and declare more often feelings of depression and loneliness. Again, the pattern for men is less clear.

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Presented in Poster Session 1