Responsiveness to parental needs in individualistic and familiastic countries

It has often been argued that Southern European countries are more familialistic in their culture than Western and Northern European countries. In this paper, we examine this notion by testing the hypothesis that adult children are more responsive to the needs of their elderly parents in countries with more familialistic attitudes. To test this hypothesis, we analyse the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). We focus on three indicators of need: (a) the partner status of the parent, (b) the health status of the parent, and (c) the education of the parent. Using Heckman probit models, we examine the effects of these variables on whether or notthe parent receives instrumental support from children, thereby controlling for whether or not children live independently from their parents. We estimate effects of need on support and we compare these effects across ten European countries, using both graphic devices and a multilevel probit model where individuals are nested incountries. We find significant cross-level interactions of need variables and the degree of familialism in a country. Our analyses thereby provide more positive evidence for the hypothesis than earlier studies, which have focused largely on comparingaggregate levels of support among countries.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.


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