Family Size and Social Contacts Among Older People – the Moderating Role of Filial Norms and Social Policies

Anita Abramowska-Kmon, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics
Anna Baranowska-Rataj, Umeå University

Social relationships provide emotional and economic support that enhances well-being throughout the life course, and the importance of these relationships is especially evident at advanced ages. In this paper, we take a cross-country comparative perspective to examine the association between older people’s number of children and social contact patterns. Using data from the European Quality of Life Survey, we employ multilevel models with cross-level interactions between the number of children and macro-level indicators of filial norms and policies related to elderly care.

Our results suggest that older people who have children are more likely than nonparents to have at least one social contact per week, but that the number of children does not affect social contact frequency. The magnitude of the association between having children and frequency of social contacts varies across European societies. The gap in the probability of having social contacts at least once per week between parents and nonparents is larger in more familialistic countries with strong filial norms. We do not find support for the hypothesis that having children affects social contact frequency less in countries where the state provides more support for older people.

Presented in Session 1129: Ageing and Intergenerational Relations