COST Action IS1311 Intergenerational Family Solidarity across Europe
The Cost International Conference was held in Milan at the Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Milan, 26th May 2016. The conference was titled “Perspectives on Intergenerational Family Solidarity. Challenges and opportunities”.
The conference aimed at providing an innovative view in the multidisciplinary research field of intergenerational family solidarity focusing on the different European challenges. Intergenerational family solidarity was presented according to a sociological, psychological, demographical and economical perspective. The contributions presented at the Conference aimed at shedding some light on the new social contract between generations, the challenge of elderhood, the role of the intergenerational value transmission in family solidarity and the resources of migration. The speeches presented specific method/technique to study family solidarity through the presentation of empirical studies and social practices.
There were 31 speakers coming from 11 different European countries (Belgium, Italy, Luxemburg, Denmark, Romania, Switzerland, Ireland, United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, France and Austria).
About 100 participants attended to the Conference.
The conference was composed by a key note speech, four symposiums and a poster session including six presentations.
The Keynote speaker was F. Perali, (University of Verona). He earned a Ph.D. degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. He has been principal investigator of several research projects related to the estimation of the cost of children, poverty and inequality, and the intra-household allocation of resources, child labor, the theory of the household enterprise, juvenile crime, the quality of life of people with acquired brain injuries, and the economics of education, and the impact evaluation of welfare programs. Perali offered a lesson titled “Family and Generation Friendly Welfare”. He underlined that the value of time and services contributed by families can be recognized by offering a benefit to be paid, not on the basis of citizenship, but of participation broadly defined as a social contribution. Participation income would have the virtue to make the terms of the family-State reciprocity contract clear and can be seen as a complementary measure of social protection. Participation can be indirect, as in the case of mothers caring for infant children or frail elderly people, or direct, as in the case of voluntary work in the fourth sector. This program may prove effective in reducing child poverty by transferring resources from the old to the young generation and to mothers, and in controlling public expenses for the care of the elderly.
There were four symposia, the first one proposed by the Cost board and the other three were submitted by relators. They were:
1. “New contract between generations” Chair: C. Attias – Donfut (France). Presenters: H. Helve (Finland) – M. T. Letablier (France) – M. Kohli (Italy).
Specific attention had been paid to childless elderly and the low intergenerational support that is available to them; in some cases, low social support in older age has been found to be related to abuse, especially the psychological one. However, as providers of help, childless elderly are an important source through voluntary and charitable work. Women on the other hand are without any doubt particularly engaged in the family intergenerational care who may often experience work restrictions due to their activity of family care-giving. This task might be extremely challenging for these women since it involves not only physical tasks but also an emotional labour
2. “Active elders: a resource for family solidarity across generations?” Chair: C. Regalia (Italy) Presenters: A. Zaidi (UK) – B. Isengard/R. König/M.Szydlik (Switzerland) – D. Bramanti/S.G. Meda/G. Rossi (Italy).
Some conditions of the elderly parents make intergenerational support more relevant. First of all, health problems and parents’ disabilities guaranteed more help provided by adult children. Secondly, elderly parents who are not living as a couple or belong to a four-generation family are keener to receive help from their adult children and strong intergenerational ties are more evident in case of co-residence or spatial proximity especially in case of elder generations’. The symposium highlighted the new family challenges in terms of intergenerational solidarity carried by the population’s aging, considering this process as a family transition. It was emphasized a particular characteristic of the elderly generation, not only as receivers but also as providers of help, because of their support in giving financial help and childminding.
3. “Family values in intergenerational transmission” Chairs: I. Albert and D. Ferring (Luxembourg). Presenters: B. Mayer (Switzerland) – I. Albert/S. Barros Coimbra/D. Ferring (Luxembourg) – D. Barni/F. Danioni/S. Ranieri/R. Rosnati (Italy).
Intergenerational exchanges within the family are not only limited to the support each generation provides to the other, but also include the transmission and the exchange of what it is considered valuable. Value transmission between parents and children is in fact considered the hallmark of successful socialization. It is likely that a successful value transmission, in terms of between generation value similarity, may foster parent-child closeness and make family members keener to provide support and solidarity to the other generations.
Download slides from Boris Mayer (University of Bern) presentation Cultural and Individual Determinants of (Changing) Family Values and Intergenerational Solidarity
4. “Intergenerational Solidarity and Migration” Chair: Trummer U. (Austria). Presenters: D. Balahur/M. P. Munteanu (Romania) – A. L. Blaakilde/C. E. Swane/ E. Algreen-Petersen (Denmark) – T. Corrigan (Ireland) – U. Trummer (Austria).
Intergenerational family relations are embedded in family cultures which influence how families regulate their relations over the whole life span with regard to key issues, such as autonomy and relatedness, or support exchange and reciprocity, and which may vary inter- and intraculturally. Migrant families undoubtedly face a special situation as values and expectations from the culture of origin and from the host cultural context might differ. Specific research evidence regarding intergenerational relations over the life span (including adolescent-parent, adult child-parent as well as grandchild-grandparent relations) were presented and discussed, also taking into account cross-cultural aspects and intergenerational relations in the context of migration
Prof. Camillo Regalia (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan), organizer of the 1st INTERFASOL Conference shares his impressions about the conference at Catholic University of the Sacred Hear, Milan, May 26, 2016.