Help and Care or Money and Gifts: A Comparative Analysis of Frequency and Size of Support Given to the Individuals with Geographically Distant and Local Children

Agnieszka Fihel, University of Warsaw
Malgorzata Kalbarczyk, University of Warsaw
Anna Nicinska, University of Warsaw

The substitution between financial (money and gifts) and non-financial (help and care) support, although limited, occurs under substantial geographical distance. In ageing societies characterized by significant spatial mobility, limited welfare state interventions, and developing markets targeting the elderly’s needs, the role of private financial and non-financial transfers remains crucial for the wellbeing of the elderly in need for support.

With this study, we address the role of geographical distance between adult children and their ageing parents in the frequency and size of support received by the elderly. The distance’s impact on transfers received from local donors, especially other than children, is particularly interesting to us. We study private transfers coming from all sources, including members of extended family (relatives) as well as unrelated individuals being either close to and trusted by the parent (confidants) or not. We refer to the whole set of transfers’ donors as to the support network. We examine the size and structure of parental support networks in comparison between families with geographically distant children (dispersed families) and with all children living in close proximity (local families). Furthermore, we seek to find whether a specialization in the provision of financial and non-financial transfers takes place between different transfers’ donors in dispersed families.

In particular, we ask whether parents in dispersed families receive more frequent and greater non-financial transfers (1) from relatives and (2) from unrelated individuals than parents in local families, and (3) whether the structure of parental support network alters the frequency and amount of both transfers’ types from these donors. To address the above research questions, we conduct a censored estimation model using the data from the Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe on confidant relationships, family, and interhousehold private transfers of individuals aged 50 or more living in selected European countries.

Presented in Poster Session 1