Families, Ageing and Social Policy

Families, Ageing and Social Policy

Intergenerational Solidarity in European Welfare States

Globalization and Welfare series

Edited by Chiara Saraceno

This important book offers valuable insights into the way in which social policies and welfare state arrangements interact with family and gender models. It presents the most up-to-date research in the field, based on a variety of national and comparative sources and using different theoretical and methodological approaches. The authors address different forms of support (care, financial, emotional) and employ a bi-directional perspective, exploring both giving and receiving across generations. They illustrate that understanding how generations interact in families helps to reformulate the way issues of intergenerational equity are discussed when addressing the redistributive impact of the welfare state through pensions and health services.

Chapter 2: The Family as a Source of Support for Adult Children’s Own Family Projects: European Varieties

Martin Kohli and Marco Albertini

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, ageing, comparative social policy, family and gender policy, sociology and sociological theory, welfare states


Martin Kohli and Marco Albertini INTRODUCTION This chapter examines how children in young adulthood and middle age are supported by their elderly parents in two potentially critical situations of their attempts to construct a family life of their own: parenthood and marital break-up. In traditional life course terms, the first situation is normative (with regard to occurrence as well as timing), the second nonnormative (Kohli 2007). Today, the norm of parenthood is losing its mandatory character, as witnessed by the growing proportion of couples voluntarily remaining childless, while divorce rates are reaching record levels where the non-normative exception is almost turning into the normative rule. In the first situation, family support becomes critical, not only for coping with parenthood when it has occurred, but already for making it happen. In the second situation, family support becomes critical for mitigating the adverse consequences of an event which is increasingly frequent but still not adequately dealt with by the public framework of social protection. The family, together with the state, the market and the civil society, is one of the four pillars of social security over the life course (Kohli 1999; EspingAndersen 2002).1 To conceptualise it in this manner requires a break with early modernisation theory, which saw the family in an inexorable process of shrinking down to the nuclear household, with all kinship ties beyond this nucleus withering away. Early welfare state research followed this perspective, and predicted that family welfare beyond the nuclear group of parents with their young...

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