Fertility history and intergenerational exchanges in later life

Cecilia Tomassini, University of Molise
Emily Grundy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Harriet Young, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Tineke Fokkema, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Pearl Dykstra, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

Many studies have shown a positive association between fertility indicators and family exchange, that is, older individuals with more children are less likely to live alone than those with fewer children and are more likely to have weekly contact with a least one of them. The timing of fertility (in particular, mean age at fertility and age of the mother at the first and last birth) determines to a large extent whether or not young adult children are still in the parental home when parents reach their 50s and 60s, although trends in home leaving are also important. Given the growing concern about reduced fertility in some European regions and possible consequences for support to older people expressed by policy makers, the aim of this study is to explore the effects of fertility quantum and timing on intergenerational exchanges in later life. This association will be investigated in three in different cultural contexts; Italy a “familistic” country where family support is the prevalent source of help for older people;, the Netherlands (where the generous State provision of services may affect the strength of such an association), and England and Wales, which has a “liberal” welfare regime (where the interplay between family and public services may be more complicated). When possible analyses for both men and women will be included in order to explore different gender paths of fertility histories and their consequences for support in later life. Our preliminary results show that the effect of parity on some indicators of family exchanges is limited in familistic countries as Italy. Low parity seems to have a limited effect on coresidence between parents and children in Italy where, while mother's age at birth has strong influence on coresidence, but not on contact with children.

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Presented in Session 33: Ageing and Intergenerational Relationships