Seminar highlights the importance of policies in shaping intergenerational family linkages

FamiliesAndSocieties logoPublic policies shape the relationships between different generations within families, especially when it comes to organising the delivery of care for older people who need it. In aggregate terms, policies establishing the design and access to leaves, benefits and services, have far-reaching implications in terms of gender and income inequality.

This was one of the main messages of Pearl Dykstra, professor at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam and chair of the seminar on "Intergenerational linkages in the family", which took place in Brussels last January 26. This event was organised by Population Europe with the support of AGE Platform in the framework of Families and Societies. This European project investigates the changes operating in European societies and families in order to contribute to evidence-based policymaking. Professor Dykstra, who gave a presentation during the 2015 AGE Annual Conference, is leader of the work on intergenerational linkages.

The session highlighted the determinants of the organisation of long-term care needs for older people and the important role that policies can play in combatting inequalities and in helping family members better combine their professional and personal lives. As highlighted by researcher Irena Kotowska, this is particularly important for the 'sandwich generation' – individuals who care simultaneously for their parents and for their grandchildren –, which often faces difficulties in combining care and work. Pau Marí-Klose, researcher at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), explained that welfare states need a better balance between social spending targeting the old (mostly pensions) and that targeting younger adults and children. He showed how, in his view, in the case of Spain pensions do not contribute to combating child poverty in a significant way, which expresses the need to find fiscal space to invest more in child policies.

The session ended with a panel debate, which counted on the participation of Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE's Secretary-General and was introduced by Brando Benifei, Italian Member of the European Parliament (MEP). Ms Parent highlighted that "rather than conflicts between generations, what we see at the moment are conflicts between social classes." Participants agreed that policies are essential to sustainable and satisfactory intergenerational linkages.

For more information you can consult Population Europe’s event review as well as the website of Families and Societies.

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