Simultaneous help to parents and children in multi-generation European families

John C. Henretta, University of Florida

This paper uses the 2004 Survey of Health and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) data to examine instrumental transfers in families with at least three living generations. The analysis focuses on the behavior of 50-59 year old middle generation households and examines whether those who assist either their elderly parents or their children are more or less likely to assist the other generation. Based on previous research, the following research hypotheses are examined: 1) There will be a positive association between help to children and help to parents, and this association will be stronger in northern than in southern Europe; 2) The characteristics and needs of both elderly parents and children will influence whether the middle generation helps each of the other generations. Results from a log-linear tabular analysis indicate that there is no overall association between helping children and helping elderly parents. In addition, there are no significant differences in this association across the 11 countries examined. Results from multilevel models of help to parents and help to children indicate an asymmetry in results. While children’s characteristics influence whether parents are helped, parents’ characteristics have no influence on whether children are helped. This latter finding may indicate the primacy of obligations to children.

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Presented in Session 52: Care and support in later life

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