Support Provided By Elderly Italian People: A Multilevel Analysis

Elvira Pelle, University of Trieste
Giulia Rivellini, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore - Milano
Susanna Zaccarin, University of Trieste

The characteristics of social networks and their composition determine the availability of social support, which, in turn, is defined as the aid individuals gain from their network members.

Social interactions have the potential to protect individuals at risk (e.g., encouraging them to develop adjustment techniques to face the difficulties) and promote positive personal and social development, which diminishes the exposure to various types of stress and increases the ability of coping with it.

Despite the literature usually investigate the importance of having support, especially that vulnerable and weaker social groups receive from their network, the role of the support provided by these categories to alters had not received the same attention. Focusing on elderly people, the support they provide to their networks members can be considered a sign of an active participation in the social life, that is one dimension of the active ageing, a multidisciplinary concept that identify both experience and capability of being autonomous in the economic, political and social life.

The aim of this work is to study the types of support provided by the elderly to other people, stressing how features of both ego (the elderly) and alters (siblings, children, grandchildren, other relatives, neighbors, friends) affect the form of aid.

We adopt a multilevel analysis to provide a new insight into the determinants of observing a provided support tie (our dependent variable) between ego (the elderly) and their alters.

To gain insight into the determinants of giving support, we also test two hypotheses: the homophily by gender (the elders are easier willing to provide support to individuals of the same gender). The type of personal network in which the elder is embedded can determine the homophily by generation: an intergenerational network facilitates the so-called intergenerational transfers; on the other hand, an intragenerational network eases intragenerational transfers.

Presented in Poster Session 3