Intergenerational family relations and social support

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A parallel process to the aging of societies in the Western world occurs in changing family structures and network compositions. The shape of families is shifting from horizontal to vertical, where the size of generations is becoming smaller but the number of living generations is increasing. Recently there is an increased emphasis in the study of intergenerational relations on the interdependence of generations. The 'aging of the aged', though, means the need for more care and support. It is well documented that there is continued high involvement of families in care giving. However, as the age structure of the society and the family change so does the availability and ability for care of its networks. The presentation will, thus, discuss and analyze the following three issues: First, a theoretical perspective on family intergenerational relationships will be presented, based on social exchange theory and the intergenerational solidarity model. Empirical findings will focus on grandparent-grandchild relations and on immigrant families, stressing the importance of ethnicity. Second, care giving and support to frail elderly family members, in different types of living arrangements, will be described and analyzed, as a major topic in research and policy. Third, the relations and impact of family solidarity, support and care on the quality of life of the older people will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-406
Number of pages9
JournalZeitschrift fur Gerontologie und Geriatrie
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1999


  • Changing family structure
  • Intergenerational relations
  • Research and policy
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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