Filial norms and family support in a comparative cross-national context: Evidence from the OASIS study

Ariela Lowenstein, Svein Olav Daatland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article aims to answer three questions: How strong are the bonds of obligations and expectations between generations? To what extent are different types of support exchanged between generations? What are the impacts of filial norms, opportunity structures and emotional bonds on the exchange of inter-generational support between adult children and older parents across societies? It reports findings from the five-country (Norway, England, Germany, Spain and Israel) OASIS study, which collected data from representative, age-stratified, urban-community samples of about 1,200 respondents in each country. The findings indicate that solidarity is general and considerable although the strengths of its dimensions vary by country. Most respondents acknowledged some degree of filial obligation, although the proportions were higher in Spain and Israel than in the northern countries, and there was greater variation in the tangible forms than in the expressed norms. Adult children were net providers of support, but older parents provided emotional support and financial help. Most support was provided to unmarried older parents with physical-function limitations. The effect of filial norms on help provision by adult children was moderate but significant and variable across the five countries, appearing more prescriptive in the south than in the north, where inter-generational exchanges were more open to negotiation. The findings demonstrate that cross-national analyses provide insights into both country-specific factors and the sometimes unexpected similarities among them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-223
Number of pages21
JournalAgeing and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Cross-national context
  • Elderly
  • Family support
  • Filial norms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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