The Multilinks project consists of six complementing and interrelated work packages. Each work package has its own focal point, and the composition of the teams responsible for the work packages varies depending on specific areas of expertise of the consortium members. Please click on the respective work package title to see which contributions will be made and a short overview of the team cooperating in the respective work package.
Policies and the life course: Gender and generations
Both in policy and research discussions elderly care and child care are typically addressed in separate discourses. When “family policy” or “family friendly policy” is the topic, the focus is almost exclusively on young children and their parents. Elderly care is, typically, not linked to family policy but discussed under “health policy”. This separation is highly unfortunate, as it disregards complex interdependencies across generations, and conceals that women provide more family care than men. This work package aims at (a) reviewing the existing policy literature both from Western European countries and from CEE countries, charting and evaluating cross-national similarities and differences, and integrating findings that remain often separate in their own specialized fields; (b) developing indicators of “intergenerational care regimes” that can be used cross-nationally, both for purposes of measurement and conceptual refinement of existing welfare typologies.
Living arrangements, formal/ informal care, and integration
This work package focuses on the dynamics of changing living arrangements, family obligations, the balance between formal and informal care, and the way these factors affect life satisfaction and loneliness. The first aim is to describe the different kinds of living and housing arrangements across Europe, and to examine how people’s use of formal and informal care is associated with these arrangements. The second aim is to investigate how views of the public/private responsibility for care are associated with living arrangements and formal and informal caring patterns: how do expectations about what family members should do for one another affect choices about where and with whom to live, and choices concerning the balance between formal in informal care? Finally, the work package aims to analyse how life satisfaction and loneliness are affected by living arrangements and family obligations. This three-fold analytic scheme will be explored in a comparative welfare state perspective by taking into account country-specific characteristics.
Family structures and solidarity patterns
The past few decades have witnessed major demographic changes in industrialised countries: delay of marriage and parenthood, decline in birth rate, increasing instability of partner relationships, and so forth. Our first aim is to chart how kin networks are affected by these demographic changes. To what extent is a new, more complex type of family coming into being, and how do contemporary family constellations vary across Europe? Who are well-embedded and who are vertically and horizontally “deprived”? A second aim is to investigate how “new” family constellations influence patterns of intergenerational dependencies and solidarity. Transfers of support and care go both up and down generational lineages, and are interrelated. How reciprocal are intergenerational solidarity patterns, and how do these patterns vary across Europe? How do those without vertical ties (the childless, those without parents and grandparents) manage their supports? Our third aim is to examine how solidarity patterns influence physical and mental health and well-being. To what extent is strain involved in intergenerational dependencies? How “balanced” are intergenerational relationships in terms of support given and received, and how does this (lack of) balance affect health and well-being of both givers and receivers of support?
Values, gender, and solidarity
In this work package, the aim is to examine how men and women in different family contexts, historical generations, and policy regimes view phases of the life course and family obligations. How important do individuals in different contexts think that family ties and transitions are in structuring adulthood? How are their views related to actual life course patterns? Do men see non-family roles and transitions as more important than is the case for women? In what contexts do we find the greatest agreement regarding family obligations? The least agreement? What are consequences of dissimilarities in values and attitudes within families? What is the relationship between views on obligation and actual giving and receipt
of support? Does the relationship between values, attitudes and behaviour vary by individuals’ educational level and gender role orientation or couples’ division of labour? Do family events, such as illness or divorce change attitudes and behaviour?
Intergenerational transfers, labour force participation, and integration
This work package aims at investigating the relationship between intergenerational transfers, labour force participation, and social integration for men and women in different age groups. Intergenerational transfers can both be seen as constraints and as opportunities for women’s labor force participation. The general view is that constraints prevail: because women are involved in the provision of care to the young and/or to the old age groups, they are less able to participate on the labour market. An alternative view is that transfers from the young generation, from a partner, or from the older generation facilitate women’s labor force participation. Similarly, intergenerational transfers can become opportunities and/or constraints for the labour force participation of the elderly. Moreover, leaving the labour market earlier might influence care provision to younger generations. For what concerns gender, the labour force participation of partners is likely to be interdependent. These patterns are likely to vary across societies, gender and cohorts, being influenced by institutional settings and cultural factors both at country and regional levels. Intergenerational transfers are also likely to interact with labour force participation in shaping the social integration of individuals who belong to various family generations. The lack of labour force participation and/or intergenerational transfers might be a cause of social exclusion, and therefore social and economic inequality.
Synthesis of findings from the multilinks framework
The objective of this work package is to make a synthesis of the findings that have emerged in Work packages 1 through 5. The general question to be answered is: What new insights have we gained from adopting a multilinks framework on demographic changes?