Table of Contents

International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy

International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy

Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series

Sarah Harper, Kate Hamblin, Jaco Hoffman, Kenneth Howse and George Leeson

The International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy explores the challenges arising from the ageing of populations across the globe for government, policy makers, the private sector and civil society. It examines various national state approaches to welfare provisions for older people, and highlights alternatives based around the voluntary and third-party sector, families and private initiatives. The Handbook is highly relevant for academics interested in this critical issue, and offers important messages for policy makers and practitioners.

Chapter 23: Kinship solidarity in Southern Europe

Chiara Saraceno

Subjects: economics and finance, health policy and economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, ageing, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, health policy and economics


Cross-country differences in patterns of support beg the question of the causal relationship between patterns of family formation and organization, values, norms and institutional frameworks, including social policies. Research has shown that, in all countries, including those with the highest provision of services, the family and, within it, women, are the main care providers for both children and the frail elderly, with or without the help of social services (Arber and Ginn 1995; Johansson et al. 2003; Sarkisian and Gerstel 2004). Yet the frequency and particularly the intensity of family-provided care varies substantially across countries. According to the 2002 Eurobarometer survey, 17 per cent of all adults in the EU15 provided care in some capacity for a ‘frail elderly or disabled person’ not living with them and a similar percentage of adults provided care for a coresident dependent person (Alber and Kohler 2004). The figures were, respectively, 18 per cent and 23 per cent in the ten new member states and the (at that time) three candidate states. The same picture emerged in the 2003 European Quality of Life Survey, although with lower percentages (Saraceno and Olagnero 2004). Other studies have found that, within the richer EU15 countries, there appears to be a North–South gradient in the percentage of individuals who offer some kind of intergenerational support. But there is an inverse gradient when intensity is considered (Ogg and Renaut 2005).

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