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 6: Personal and Household Caregiving from Adult Children to Parents and Social Stratification

Sebastian Sarasa and Sunnee Billingsley

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


6. Personal and household caregiving from adult children to parents and social stratification1 Sebastian Sarasa and Sunnee Billingsley INTRODUCTION Research on the social transmission of inequality usually focuses on the impact that parental – financial, cultural and social capital – resources have on the life chances of their children. The focus, therefore, has been on what parents can – or cannot – give to their children. Little research exists on how parents’ demands on children’s resources, particularly non-financial resources, impact children’s life chances and whether there is a link between these demands and parents’ and children’s position in the social stratification system. Moreover, the role gender plays in this relationship is also unknown. Our work furthers this field of research by focusing on personal care and household help (henceforth PCHH) given from adult children to their parents when the latter suffer poor health or some limitations in completing everyday activities. Many intergenerational studies measure solidarity by summing different kinds of social support, such as financial transfers, personal care and emotional support. However, combining different kinds of social support as a single variable is methodologically problematic (Rossi and Rossi 1990), since intergenerational solidarity has several dimensions, each with its own dialectic and conflict between helpers and the people being helped (Bengtson et al. 2002) as well as different costs in terms of time and money. PCHH activities are time consuming and it is widely accepted that heavy care burdens, when prolonged over time, have negative consequences for...

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