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 11: Intergenerational Solidarity and Social Structures in Sweden: Class, Ethnicity and Gender in Public and Private Support Patterns

Ulla Björnberg and Hans Ekbrand

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


Ulla Björnberg and Hans Ekbrand INTRODUCTION A recurrent theme in contemporary societies is to what extent social solidarity in society and within families has been influenced by developments within the political economy at large. There are several reasons at both structural and personal levels which have brought the theme to a forefront in sociopolitical debates, for instance, changes in demographic structures, migration patterns at a global level, transformation of gender relations and increase in cohabitation, divorce and separation with possible weakening of cohesion in family relations. Questions are raised about the likelihood that individuals support family members in vulnerable situations and also about their willingness to do so. It has also been argued that the financial dependencies and family obligations regarding interfamily support have been reduced due to extended support by the welfare states. Behind this reasoning is the assumption that the institutionalisation of various support systems has made family support redundant or at least contributed to changed attitudes about family commitments. Several studies, however, have indicated that intergenerational support is still important in families, although the motivations might vary among different strata of the populations (Kohli 1999; Attias-Donfut and Wolff 2000a, 2000b; Gulbrandsen and Langsether 2000; Bawin-Legros and Stassen 2002; Brannen et al. 2005; Hellevik 2005; Björnberg and Latta 2007; Björnberg and Ekbrand forthcoming). In previous research on the impact of family forms on support patterns within kin and between generations in Sweden, we found that willingness to enter into support exchanges are strongly...

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