Written by Daniela KLAUS on . Posted in Special issue: Individual Development And Family Relations In Eastern Europe, Guest Editors: Mihaela FRIEDLMEIER, Wolfgang FRIEDLMEIER, Volume XVI, Nr. 2


This paper investigates European patterns of intergenerational contact. A large number of studies in family sociology and gerontology demonstrate the explanatory power of micro-level variables, but the effect of the socio-cultural context on intergenerational arrangements rarely has been appraised. A comprehensive review of prominent classifications of European family and welfare regimes prompts the main research question: Do these macro-level typologies add heuristic value to the investigation of intergenerational arrangements in contemporary Europe? Further, as previous studies have focused mainly on Western Europe alone, Eastern European countries are included using comparable micro-data from the first wave of the Generations and Gender Survey (UNO, 2005). Launched and coordinated by the UNECE, the GGS panel survey was carried out between 2004 and 2010. Within each participating country nationally representative samples of the 18-79 year old resident population are conducted under the direction of national experts and institutions. For a selection of West and (South) East European countries the frequency of face-to-face contact of respondents aged 60 years and older to their adult children is explored. Controlling for several individual-level characteristics, significant country differences remain. A west-east division coincides with a less stark north-south division. Contact is most frequent in Georgia and Bulgaria; it is lower in Estonia, the Russian Federation, and Germany and lowest in France. Belgium, with its very high contact rate, is an exceptional case.

KEYWORDS: intergenerational contact, kinship system, welfare regime, cross- national comparison, Generations and Gender Survey, Europe