The importance of intergenerational solidarity

Isabelle Albert

Isabelle Albert

by Isabelle Albert, co-author of Intergenerational relations: European perspectives on family and society

Research on intergenerational solidarity has focused for a long time on issues regarding ageing families and the support needs of a growingly elder population due to higher life expectancies. Together with falling fertility rates, the demographic developments of recent decades have led to changed family structures which underline the significance of vertical family relations.

The size of each generation within a family has diminished whereas the opportunities of different generations to share more life time together have grown – a development that has definitely strengthened not only the importance of solidarity in parent-child relations over the lifespan, but also of grandparent-grandchild relations.

Although studies have shown that older generations often remain net providers of support for younger generations until old age, the question of who cares for them in cases of illness and need remains complex in many families. The regulation of family relations with regard to elder care is therefore still a highly important topic.

With the current economic crisis in many Southern European countries, however, new aspects of intergenerational solidarity have come to the fore, too. After the years of relative affluence, new questions arise today out of a sometimes dramatic situation on the job market, especially for younger generations. The difficulties younger generations are confronted with today during their transition to adulthood do not only affect themselves, but also their family members who often have to step in when coping with economic problems. It goes without saying that this can also be a burden for intergenerational relations. We are only just beginning to grasp the effects of prolonged economic dependency and need for financial support of young adults for intergenerational relations both in families and society.

Intergenerational relations: European perspectives on family and society provides an excellent starting point from which one can explore the societal and psychological effects of these recent socio-economic developments. It is available to buy with 20% discount from

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