Focusing mostly on Europe, this overview reveals how the research on cross-national differences in intergenerational family relations has moved from basic descriptions to a focus on understanding how support exchanges are shaped by macro- level processes. A key issue concerns generational interdependence, the extent to which public policy arrangements impose reliance on older and younger family members or enable individual autonomy. Real theoretical progress is visible in three areas of research. The first pertains to analyses at the micro level of how family members actually respond to the incentives that different macro contexts provide. The generosity or restrictedness of public provisions variably releases or necessitates normative obligations in interdependent family relationships. The second area of progress involves analyses of the implica- tions of specific policies rather than policy packages for gender and socioeconomic inequality. The third area of progress is a more nuanced view on the familialism–individualism divide. These three areas provide inspiring examples for future investigations. Translational Significance: Citizens and policy makers will benefit from knowledge about the different impli- cations that different policies have for gender and socioeconomic inequality. Cash for care payments, which are taken more easily by women than men and by low-paid women than high-paid women, increases the likelihood of poverty in advanced age. Care services better assist men and women in reconciling family care and paid work. Keywords: Intergenerational family relations, Interdependence, Cross-national, Europe, Policy In the past 15 years, the literature on cross-national differ- European countries and Israel currently participate, and ences in intergenerational family relations has moved from the Generations and Gender Survey (GGS), in which 19 basic descriptions of support exchanges to a focus on under- European and 4 non-European countries currently partici- standing how support exchanges are shaped by macro-level pate. (Countries have joined in different years, so data sets processes. The challenge of linking family practices to struc- for the full range of countries are not yet available. For more tural forces is a fertile ground for theoretical development. information on the surveys, visit http://www.share-project. Much of the scholarship has focused on European multi- org, last accessed November 27, 2017, and http://www. generational families due to the availability of large-scale ggp-i.org, last accessed November 27, 2017) In this article, I comparative data collections, such as the Survey of Health, describe major findings, focusing mostly on Europe, and crit- Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), in which 26 ically reflect on the conceptual progress that has been made. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. 1 This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/innovateage/article-abstract/2/1/igx032/4788754 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018 Copyedited by: OUP 2 Innovation in Aging, 2017, Vol. 00, No. 00 2011). Note, however, that the prevalence of coresidential Weak and Strong Family Regions arrangements in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and the Reher’s (1998) article on family ties in western Europe has Baltic States resembles that in continental Europe, serv- served as a source of inspiration for many cross-national ing as a reminder that researchers should not engage in studies. In “bold strokes” (p. 204), he described the cen- what Szoltysek (2012) describes as a “Western homog- ter and north of Europe as a weak family region and the enising view of Eastern European family patterns” (p. 12). Mediterranean as a strong family region. In countries with Mönkediek and Bras (2014) included the Czech Republic weak family ties, young adults set up households of their and Poland in their analyses of subnational variations in own at a relatively young age, and the provision of care family structures. They classify these central and Eastern to vulnerable family members is largely accomplished European regions in terms of “rather weak” (p. 252) family through public and private institutions. In countries with regimes: family members tend to live near one another, but strong family ties, young adults remain in the parental levels of contact are relatively low. home until they marry, and much of the aid given to the needy and the poor comes from the family. In weak family areas, individualistic values prevail, whereas collectivistic Transfer Regimes values predominate in strong family contexts. Reher traced the emphasis on the individual and self-reliance in northern The term “transfer regime” (Albertini et al., 2007) was Europe to the Reformation and attributed the overriding introduced to interpret the cross-national findings on inter - importance of kin ties in southern Europe to Catholic and generational exchanges, thereby stressing the correspond- Islamic influences. ence with established classifications of countries based on The first cross-national studies on intergenerational ties the decommodification of public transfers and services using data from SHARE focused on co-residence, spatial (Esping-Andersen, 1990). Two considerations are crucial proximity, and frequency of contacts. Results demonstrated here. The first is that generous welfare provisions help “not only a ‘weak’–‘strong’ dichotomy but a North-South relieve family and kin from the burden of economic sup- gradient” (Kohli, Künemund, & Lüdike, 2005, p. 167). In port and personal care. Rather than “crowding out” family Scandinavian countries, the proportions of older adults care, generous welfare state services actually complement it with children in the same household, at least one child (Daatland & Lowenstein, 2005; Künemund & Rein, 1999; living within a 25-km radius, and daily contact with at least Motel-Klingebiel, Tesch-Römer, & Von Kondratowitz, one child are lower than in the Mediterranean countries, 2005). The second consideration is that public transfers with the Continental European countries somewhere in might be redistributed at the family level. With regard to the middle (Hank, 2007). Interestingly, country differences downward family support, monetary welfare provisions in intergenerational transfers of time and money do not enable family members to respond to those with the great- clearly fit Reher’s division between weak family and strong est financial needs (Kohli, 1999). Interactions between family regions (Albertini, Kohli, & Vogel, 2007; Bonsang, family and state support merit attention because private 2007; Hank & Buber, 2009; Ogg & Renaut, 2006). transfers have important implications for the labor supply Following Reher, one would expect both the frequency of helpers and recipients as well as their capital accumula- and intensity of intergenerational transfers to be lowest in tion (Attias-Donfut, Ogg, & Wolff, 2005). weak family regions and highest in strong family regions. Subsequent studies using SHARE data aimed to reveal Results show otherwise. The Scandinavian countries ex- why intergenerational transfer patterns are correlated with hibit the highest frequency of giving and receiving, but the welfare regimes. The typical approach is to connect different lowest intensity of support exchanges. The frequency of kinds of intergenerational assistance to relevant measures of support exchanges is lowest in the Mediterranean coun- welfare provisions in multilevel models (e.g., Brandt, 2013; tries, but the intensity is highest. Again, support trans- Brandt & Deindl, 2013; Deindl & Brandt, 2011; Haberkern fers in the continental European countries fall in between & Szydlik, 2010; Igel, Brandt, Haberkern, & Szydlik, 2009; the other two regions. Clearly, support for Reher’s weak Igel & Szydlik, 2011). Brandt, Haberkern, and Szydlik’s family—strong family dichotomy depends on the measure (2009) article is perhaps the most noteworthy on this topic: of intergenerational relations that is used. it reveals that the availability of social service professionals Until recently, research on intergenerational relations in a given country shapes the types of supportive tasks that rarely included Eastern European countries, with the excep- adult children perform for their aging parents. The authors tion of scholarship inspired by Hajnal’s (1965, 1982) divid- distinguished practical help (e.g., assistance with household ing line that runs from St. Petersburg, Russia, to Trieste, tasks, paperwork) and physical care (e.g., assistance with Italy. Increasingly, data on intergenerational exchanges bathing, dressing, eating) given to parents and took the size in Eastern Europe are becoming available. The European of the social service sector (measured as the percentage of Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions employees in that sector) as indicator of welfare provisions. (EU-SILC) report levels of intergenerational coresidence Findings show that the proportion of adult children provid- in Eastern Europe that often parallel those in southern ing practical help to parents is higher, but the proportion Europe (Aassve, Cottini, & Vitatli, 2013; Iacovou & Skew, providing physical care is lower in countries with a larger Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/innovateage/article-abstract/2/1/igx032/4788754 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018 Copyedited by: OUP Innovation in Aging, 2017, Vol. 00, No. 00 3 social service sector. There is a “crowding in” of practical emotionally, financially, practically, and morally reliant on help, but a “crowding out” of physical care. When profes- and responsible to each other. It is a complex phenomenon, sionals take on the complex, demanding, and routinizable in that it has rewarding elements such as rights, support, physical care tasks, family members have greater opportu- continuity, and protection against risks, as well as unset- nities to provide spontaneous and nontechnical forms of tling elements such as obligations, vulnerabilities related to support. A drawback of the Brandt and colleagues’ study events and resources of others, and transitions beyond a is that the measure of social services conflates publicly and person’s control. privately funded arrangements. State provisions cannot be Albertini and Kohli (2013) nicely demonstrate how gen- distinguished from market provisions. erational interdependence in the family realm varies, de- Another noteworthy study is that of Mudrazija (2016), pending on the transfer regime context. They focus on the who shows that public redistribution of resources between needs and resources of parents and children as determinants parents and children is associated with a secondary redis- of residential autonomy of the younger generation. For rea- tribution in the opposite direction at the family level. The sons of parsimony, I will focus on the findings for children’s author focuses on policies affecting intergenerational redis- employment status and parental education. In southern and tribution, namely public spending on old-age and survivors’ continental European countries, children without a job are insurance benefits (OASI) and family policy, both measured less likely than children with a job to live on their own. In as share of gross domestic product. His interest is in the Scandinavian countries, however, the likelihood of residen- net beneficiary (defined as the monetary value of financial tial autonomy does not vary across children’s employment and nonfinancial transfers that parents give to children, statuses. In Sweden and Denmark, higher levels of welfare minus the monetary value of transfers they receive from decommodification make it possible to achieve residen- children) at different stages in life. Across most European tial autonomy also for economically less well-off children. countries, children are the net beneficiary of transfers up In southern and continental European countries, having until the point when parents reach an advanced age (80 highly educated parents increases the likelihood that young and older). Results show furthermore that higher OASI to adults live on their own and receive financial support from family spending ratio is associated with larger net transfers their parents, whereas this likelihood is not graded by level from parents to children, suggesting that parents provide of parental education in Scandinavian countries. Clearly, more support to adult children or children decrease their exiting the parental home is more strongly shaped by the support to parents when public intergenerational redistri- family’s economic resources in continental and southern bution of resources becomes relatively more favorable for Europe than in Scandinavian countries. parents than their children, and vice versa. It is common Research on grandparental care (Bordone, Arpino, & practice to use social expenditures as welfare regime indi- Aassve, 2017) provides another powerful example of poli- cator, as Mudrazija has done. The drawback is, however, cies that enable autonomy in families (defamilialism). In that expenditures can cover different policy packages: in- Europe, the likelihood that grandparents provide child- come transfers or services in kind, so that the effects of spe- care on a daily basis is strongly linked to the availability cific policies remain unclear. I will return to this point later. of public policy arrangements. In countries where childcare services and parental leaves are most generous, grandpar- ents are least likely to provide daily care to grandchil- How Transfer Regimes Shape Generational dren while daughters and daughters-in-law are at work. Interdependence Grandparents are not compelled to step in—because there The literature on intergenerational transfer regimes has are public arrangements facilitating the combination of made considerable strides toward mapping exchange pat- paid work and parenting responsibilities. terns at the micro level of families to characteristics of wel- Viazzo (2010a, 2010b) has suggested that different fare states. Concepts such as “specialization” (Igel et al., explanatory models apply to support transfers in north- 2009) and “redistribution” (Mudrazija, 2014) provide ern and southern Europe. In the northern and west- telling descriptions of patterned links between public and ern countries with their more generous welfare systems, private streams of intergenerational support. Nevertheless, transfers presumably flow to the neediest, irrespective of the research community has only started to scratch the sur- any present or future reciprocating help, consistent with face of how the macro-level welfare regime context shapes the altruistic model. In the southern and eastern coun- mechanisms of transfers at the micro level of family behav- tries with their less generous welfare systems, transfers ior. A key issue concerns generational interdependence presumably reflect the payment of services and visits and (Dykstra & Hagestad, 2016; Hagestad & Dykstra, 2016): are embedded in current and future obligations of reci- the extent to which public policy arrangements impose reli- procity (Komter, 2005). Ultimately, intergenerational ance on older and younger family members or enable indi- transfers in southern and eastern Europe would be driven vidual autonomy (Leitner, 2003; Saraceno & Keck, 2010; by more morally binding reciprocity obligations (Viazzo, Zagel & Lohmann, 2016). Generational interdependence 2010a, 2010b), whereas voluntary obligations (Segalen, exists when family members of multiple generations are 2010) would be more characteristic of intergenerational Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/innovateage/article-abstract/2/1/igx032/4788754 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018 Copyedited by: OUP 4 Innovation in Aging, 2017, Vol. 00, No. 00 transfers in Northern and Western Europe. “Voluntary” family obligation norms are stronger predictors of support and “obligatory” seem to contradict one another but to parents in the United States than in the Netherlands. match family relations that cherish affection and auton- Apparently, Americans see it as more critical to act upon omy (Stuifbergen, Dykstra, & Van Delden, 2010). Viazzo shared beliefs about family support given that publicly and Segalen did not test their ideas themselves, but recent funded services are not widely available. Living in a welfare research shows that the generosity or restrictedness of regime that offers a relatively high level of support for its public provisions variably releases or necessitates norma- citizens seems to allow the Dutch to act on their individual tive obligations in interdependent family relationships. preferences. Similar findings have been reported by Brandt Examples follow below. (2013): in SHARE, feelings of obligation are cited most Leopold and Raab (2011) carried out a fascinating study often as reasons for helping family members in southern on cross-national differences in short-term reciprocity, a and continental Europe, whereas the enjoyment of giving is strategy employed by care recipients to ease the burden of cited most often in northern Europe. late-life dependency. According to the authors, aging par- ents strive to maintain balanced exchanges with their adult National Policies Rather Than Transfer Regimes children to avoid feelings of indebtedness: “They display An issue of debate in the literature is whether regimes, autonomy by supporting their helping children themselves that is clusters of public transfers and services, or specific and thus either repay benefits received or initiate reciprocal policies should serve as the basis for explaining cross- support in the short term” (p. 107). Findings show the national differences in intergenerational transfers in fam- greatest prevalence of short-term reciprocity in southern ilies. For example, Albertini and Kohli (2013) argue that European countries where elderly parents depend most because “regimes can be understood as institutional clus- strongly on their children’s instrumental support, no preva- ters with a common underlying logic…they should not be lence of short-term reciprocity in Nordic countries where dissolved into separate variables” (p. 830). In contrast, family support is complemented by professional care ser- Kasza (2002) puts forward that because “most countries vices, and intermediate levels of short-term reciprocity in practice a disjointed set of welfare policies…policy-spe- the continental European countries. cific comparisons may be a more promising avenue for Though Van den Broek and Dykstra (2017) did not em- comparative research” (p. 271). Though regimes might be ploy any direct measure of family obligations, they make a said to provide empirical and theoretical parsimony, the convincing case about the impacts of transfer regimes on clustering of countries into regime types has limitations, adult children’s helping behavior by precluding the pos- most obviously that national policies within each clus- sibility of differential selectivity between countries. They ter remain hidden, and that clusters are far from homo- show that adult children’s weaker inclination to help frail geneous (Attias-Donfut et al., 2005; Schenk, Dykstra, & single-living parents in countries where beds in residential Maas, 2010). care settings are more widely available is not attributable The importance of distinguishing specific policies is to “out-selection,” namely that parental needs are less se- evident in recent work on gender inequality. When pub- vere in such countries. Neither is the weaker inclination at- lic care support is offered in cash rather than in kind, the tributable to “in-selection,” namely that adult children and strategy of keeping the money for the family budget and impaired parents are less likely to share a household in such staying at home to provide care is more attractive for countries. The authors refer to “diffusion of responsibility” women than men, given that men tend to have higher earn- to account for adult children’s reluctance to help in coun- ings (Javornik, 2014; Lohmann & Zagel, 2016; Saraceno, tries where beds in residential care settings are more widely 2010). Reduced participation in gainful employment con- available. Knowing that publicly funded care is available tributes to a greater likelihood of late-life poverty among seems to undermine adult children’s sense of urgency to women. Confirming earlier findings, Haberkern, Schmid, step in and provide care to their impaired parents. and Szydlik (2015) show that women are more likely Cooney and Dykstra (2011) did not frame their to provide intensive care to aging parents than men are. investigation in terms of Viazzo’s morally binding reci- However, the gender gap in the provision of such care is procity obligations and Segalen’s voluntary obligations. highest in countries with low provision of professional Nevertheless, their findings underscore this distinction. home-care services and high public spending on cash ben- They compared intergenerational support patterns in efits. Additional analyses reveal that professional home- two countries with dramatically different social welfare care services substitute only for care by daughters, not for policy regimes: the Netherlands and the United States of care by sons, who show lower levels of engagement gener- America. Middle-aged adults from the National Survey ally. Moreover, cash payments encourage intergenerational of Families and Households (NSFH) and the Netherlands care but motivate only daughters not sons. The authors Kinship Panel Study (NKPS) reported on financial and conclude that “[a]chieving gender equality in intergenera- instrumental (errands, transportation, household and yard tional care is still a one-way ticket from informal care by help) support to parents and children. Consistent with women towards State care” (p. 317). their “family-steps-in” hypothesis, the authors find that Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/innovateage/article-abstract/2/1/igx032/4788754 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018 Copyedited by: OUP Innovation in Aging, 2017, Vol. 00, No. 00 5 necessity and housing shortages underlies intergenerational Cultural Explanations coresidence (Newman, 2012; Ruggles, 2007), Manacorda The question of how much cross-national differences in be- and colleagues show that financial resources enable Italian havior reflect differences in welfare state constellations and parents to act on their cultural preferences. how much they reflect differences in culture is repeatedly addressed in the literature (Pfau-Effinger, 2005). Dominant cultural models of family relations, such as ideas about the Wrap-up gender division of paid and unpaid labor, and ideas about childcare and eldercare responsibilities, differ to a substan- Cross-national comparisons constitute a valuable strategy tial degree across Europe. Traditional family values are to uncover how macro-level social forces shape intergen- characteristic of the Mediterranean countries (Kalmijn & erational family relations (Yu, 2015). In this overview, Saraceno, 2008; Marckmann, 2017), though high levels of I focused most strongly on research identifying the ways in familialism have also been reported for central and eastern which public policy arrangements in Europe create and re- Europe and for Anglo-Saxen countries (Calzada & Brooks, inforce generational interdependencies in the family realm 2013). The models of “proper” family relations underlie wel- or—on the contrary—lighten them. The literature pro- fare state arrangements (Saraceno & Keck, 2010), but Kohli, vides ample descriptions of the links between public and Albertini, and Haberkern (2010) point out that institutional, family streams of support. Generous welfare provisions structural, and cultural factors do not vary independently enable a “specialization” of caring functions, whereby the among countries; they come in “packages” (p. 241). For that state performs the demanding tasks requiring professional reason, it is difficult to disentangle their effects. expertise, and the family provides unstructured and non- Aassve, Sironi, and Bassi (2013) bring a new perspective technical help. Generous welfare provisions also enable to the individualism–familialism divide in Europe, stressing a “redistribution” of resource flows in families: govern- a country’s experience with political independence in the ment spending on older generations encourages transfers development of liberal attitudes toward the family. They from parents to children, whereas government spending argue that a longer history of self-determination and pol- on younger generations reduces financial dependency on itical autonomy brings greater opportunities to build civic parents. values and social trust. In turn, the higher levels of social Real theoretical progress is visible in three areas of re- trust generate greater confidence in substituting the fam- search. These three areas provide inspiring examples for ily’s safety with support found in the wider community. future endeavors. The first area of progress pertains to Employing the State Antiquity Index, a measure of the analyses at the micro level of how family members actu- depth of experience with state-level institutions, which cor- ally respond to the incentives that different macro con- relates highly with social capital (i.e., meaningful contacts texts provide. The underlying idea is that the generosity outside the immediate family), the authors find the most or restrictedness of public provisions variably releases liberal family attitudes in countries with highest levels of or necessitates normative obligations in interdependent social capital, trust, and voluntary activity. Contrary to family relationships. The second area of progress involves popular notions, individualism in the sense of having lib- analyses of the incentives for work-family reconciliation eral family attitudes should not be equated with a retreat linked with specific policies. The package of family poli- from engagement in civic and social life. Whereas Reher cies, for example, pertains to paid and unpaid leaves, traced the weak family—strong family divide to religious daddy quota, targeted and nontargeted cash transfers, influences, Aassve and colleagues suggest that it more gen- and care services, and each has different implications for erally stems from differences in economic and institutional gender and socioeconomic inequality. The third area of development. progress is a more nuanced view on the familialism–in- Investigations of intergenerational coresidence have dividualism divide. Rather than fall back on generalized proven to be particularly successful at unraveling cultural assumptions about enduring cultural norms of intergen- and economic factors, although alternative explanations erational family solidarity, greater attention is now being such as the suitability of the housing stock cannot be fully paid to how macro-level circumstances impose reliance ruled out (e.g., Iacovou, 2010). In a country like Italy, where on family members (familialism) or enable individual au- parents value family togetherness rather than intergenera- tonomy (defamilialism). There is also a greater recogni- tional independence, the assumption is that parental wealth tion that individualistic societies tend to have high levels is devoted to prolonging coresidence. In an elegant natural of civic engagement. experiment, Manacorda and Moretti (2006) show that the A focus on nation states by definition overlooks within- increase in fathers’ income linked to changes in the Italian country differences and regional patterns that go beyond Social Security System, resulted in a higher proportion of national borders. It is important to recognize the limitations young men living at home. Apparently, wealthy parents of such an approach. Dykstra and Fokkema (2011) find “bribe” their children to remain at home, offering com- considerable within-country variability in family solidarity fort in exchange for their children’s presence. Contrary to patterns, and caution against presuming that countries have the standard explanation that a combination of economic a single dominant type of late-life family. Historians have Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/innovateage/article-abstract/2/1/igx032/4788754 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018 Copyedited by: OUP 6 Innovation in Aging, 2017, Vol. 00, No. 00 pointed to the persistence of regional differences in family more often. Moreover, instead of solely relying on macro- patterns that can be traced to earlier rules of inheritance level policy indicators, knowledge about family members’ (Duranton, Rodriguez-Pose, & Sandall, 2009; Mönkediek eligibility to benefits will help clarify patterns of intergenera- & Bras, 2014). Perhaps the strongest reason for paying tional assistance. attention to within-country differentiation is decentraliza- tion in the public sector. Increasingly, the delivery of health Funding and care services is being delegated to local authorities (Saltman, Bankauskaite, & Vrangbaek, 2007). Financial support for work on this chapter comes from the European Cross-national comparisons of intergenerational family Research Council Advanced Investigator Grant (ERC, 324211) “Families in Context.” relations not only offer a basis for making theoretical pro- gress but also offer serious methodological challenges (Yu, 2015). There are concerns, for example, about the equiva- Conflict of Interest lence of measures across time and country and about the limited number of countries for which comparable and None reported. harmonized data sets are available. 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