Intergenerational Solidarity in European Welfare States
Globalization and Welfare series
Edited by Chiara Saraceno
Chapter 2: The Family as a Source of Support for Adult Children’s Own Family Projects: European Varieties
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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