The Gender Dimension of Intergenerational Transfers in Europe

Bernhard Hammer, Vienna Institute of Demography
Tanja Istenič, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Economics
Lili Vargha, Hungarian Demographic Research Institute, Budapest
Sonja Spitzer, Vienna Institute of Demography

The paper analyzes the organization of intergenerational transfers by gender in European countries. We investigate if there is a gender gap in the total size of transfers, including public transfers and private transfers, considering contributions as well as benefits. There are concerns that the organization of the pension system puts women at a disadvantage. Women provide most of the transfers in form of household work and childcare, but contribute less to pension system and therefore have considerably lower pensions than men do. However, there is a range of other type of transfers and the higher life expectancy and lower pension age in some of the countries works in favour of women. Using National Transfer Accounts data on age- and gender-specific transfers in 2010, we calculate gender-specific measures of lifetime transfer contributions and benefits. We find that in countries where women devote more time to production activities than men, the value of total net transfer contributions is considerably higher for women. In more gender-egalitarian countries, the value for men is higher, because of a larger share of paid production being redistributed between genders and generations. We find a gender gap at the disadvantage of men in net transfer benefits at old age when the higher life expectancy of women is accounted for.

Introduction

The organization of economictransfers between generations is a core function of many societal institutions,including the family and the public welfare system. On average, children andelderly persons are net receiver of transfers, while the working age populationare net provider. The roles of individuals within the transfer system differnot only by age and life stage, but also by gender. While there are only ofsmall gender differences in the transfers too children, there are clear genderdifferences in the provision of intergenerational transfers during working age.Employment rates and income are much higher for men than for women.Consequently, men provide a larger share of market transfers to children andpublic transfers to the elderly generation. In contrast, women are more engagedin unpaid household work and are net providers of unpaid services to childrenand other adult household members. The gender roles in the provision oftransfers are among the determinants of the gender differences in old agebenefits. The employment- and income-based contributions to the publicpay-as-you-go pension system are awarded with pension entitlements. Incontrast, the transfers to children do not entitle to pension rights, or onlytoo a very limited degree. Consequently, the specialization in unpaid householdtasks and care work puts women at a disadvantage, as they make fewercontributions to the public pension system and therefore receive lower pens.The picture changes when a life course perspective is adopted and a the higher life expectancy and earlier retirement of womenis accounted for. The higher life expectancy and earlier retirement of womenworks in favor of women and has the potential to reverse the gender gap inpublic transfers.

Using NTAtransfer data for 2010 we analyze gendered organization of the transfer system,considering both, contributions and benefits, of public transfers as well asprivate transfers of goods and services bought on the market and goods and servicesproduced by unpaid household work. We develop a measure of the differencesbetween transfer benefits and transfer contributions throughout the life courseby gender. While most of the literature on the gender gap in public transfersfocuses on the level of certain type of benefits in a given year, we take intoaccount all type of public transfers, as well as gender differences in lifeexpectancy.

Data andMethodology

Ouranalysis is based on European National Transfer Accounts and European NationalTime Transfer Accounts for 17 countries (www.wittgensteincentre.org/ntadata).As example, Figure 1 shows the average per capita net transfers by age andgender for 16 EU countries as share of the yearly labourincome of a full-time worker. For children the most important type of transfersare those in form of time and services. Working age women provide the transfersin form of care and unpaid household work (yellow), working age men thetransfers in form of goods and services bought on the market (blue) and publictransfers (lack). Both, men and women are net receiver of public transfers inold age, with men receiving higher yearly benefits, on average.

Figure 1:Net Transfers by Type, Age and Gender in Austria 2010 in Relations to the Labour Income of a Full-Time Worker

Results

We derive gender-specific transfer measures byassuming that the cross-sectional age pattern of transfers in the year 2010corresponds to the transfer contributions and benefits of an individual overthe lifetime. This individual faces an age- and gender-specific mortalitycorresponding to the age-specific rates observed in 2010. We then calculate theamount of transfers that our hypothetical cross-section individual receives inchildhood, the amount it transfers to children and elderly during working lifeand the amount that it receives in old age.

Table 2:Total Net Transfers by Life Stage in Terms of the Yearly Net Income of aFull-Time Worker

Austria

Young

Work

Old

Men

16

-20

8

Women

16

-13

7

Germany

Young

Work

Old

Men

16

-12

8

Women

15

-4

8

Italy

Young

Work

Old

Men

18

-15

8

Women

17

-17

4

Sweden

Young

Work

Old

Men

14

-20

6

Women

13

-15

8

Table 2 reports the value of expected transfersin terms of the yearly income of a full-time worker by type and life stage forfour countries. The total transfers a child can expect until becoming netcontributor to the transfer system is similar for men and women. The netcontributions to the intergenerational transfer system in working age is higherfor men in most countries. In Italy women use considerable more time for workactivities, which results in higher net transfer compared to men in working ageand smaller net benefits in old age. However, in the other countries in ourselection the net benefits in old age are higher for women, mainly because ofhigher life expectancy and earlier retirement. 

 

Presented in Session 1211: Policy Issues