Caring for dependent parents: Altruism, exchange or family norm?

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to test alternative models of long-term caring motives. We consider three main motives: pure altruism, exchange and family norm. Our database is the second wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) which allows linking almost perfectly and with complete information children and their parents’ characteristics. Comparing the empirical results to the theoretical models developed, it appears that, depending on the regions analyzed, long-term caring is driven by moderate altruism or by family norm, while Alessie et al. (De Economist 162(2):193–213, 2014), also using SHARE data, stress the importance of exchange motive in intergenerational transfers.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Notes

  1. 1.

    Bonsang (2009) has worked on the issue of substitutability and complementarity of formal and informal care.

  2. 2.

    The sixth wave ended at the end of 2015.

  3. 3.

    Data are also available for the first wave of SHARE conducted in 2004 but this wave contains fewer observations and fewer countries; hence, the decision to study only the second wave.

  4. 4.

    They built two different samples: the one in which they consider the respondents as parents (the ‘young’ sample) and the one in which they consider the respondents as children (the ‘old’ sample). They use the young sample to analyze financial transfers from parents to their children and the old sample to analyze services provided by each child to parents.

  5. 5.

    Among the 33,132 respondents considered in wave 2, 29,655 declare having at least one child while 3,178 report not having one. There are 299 missing values (due to a refusal to answer). In addition, this complete information is available on up to four children in a household. That represents 93.3% of households for which complete information on all their children is available.

  6. 6.

    As explained previously, only one household member is interviewed about the children and/or stepchildren, financial transfers and help received to reduce the duration of the interview.We also focus our analysis on single respondents in order to not have this duplication issue. See Section 5.4.

  7. 7.

    That can be children, but also partner, other relatives, friends, and so on.

  8. 8.

    412 respondents refused or did not know the answer (1.2 %). 69.1 % declared not having made a transfer.

  9. 9.

    The other transfers recipients are: Family for 21.4 % and other relationships 4.2 %

  10. 10.

    258 respondents refused or did not know the answer (0.8 %). 78.3 % declared not receiving informal help.

  11. 11.

    The other care suppliers are: Family other than children (nephew, niece, uncle, etc.) for 20.3 %, children-in-law 6.9 % (unfortunately, no complete information on their characteristics is available) and other relationships 23.6 %.

  12. 12.

    1107 children with missing information about age, 446 with employment status, 380 with education level, 121 with siblings, 231 with location, 652 with level of parent education, 58 with health status of parent.

  13. 13.

    The sum of missing information is not equal to the difference between 32,235 and 31,416. Indeed, the sum is equal to 2995 when the difference is only 1480. This is because some missing information relates to the same child.

  14. 14.

    ISCED or International Standard Classification of Education was created by UNESCO in order to facilitate comparisons of educations statistics and indicators across countries.

  15. 15.

    ‘Low’ is from ISCED 0 (pre-primary education) to 2 (lower secondary or second state of basic education) through 1 (primary education or first stage of basic education) when ‘High’ ranges from ISCED 4 (post-secondary non-tertiary education) to 6 (second stage of tertiary education) through 5 (first stage of tertiary education).

  16. 16.

    The negative link appears also when we only look at the people who have received help even if it is less strong.

  17. 17.

    The negative link appears also when we only look at the people who have made a transfer even if it is less strong.

  18. 18.

    These initial results are a bit contrasted in the case of a sample of children whose parents have no more/no partner. See Table 11. in AAppendix. That is why we analyze this particular sample in a specific way.

  19. 19.

    This property challenges the assumption of linearity and shows that the ordinary least squares are not the relevant method for estimating such a relationship.

  20. 20.

    Daughters have been shown in numerous studies to be much more likely to provide care to elderly parents than sons, and to provide more care (Mellor 2001).

  21. 21.

    As dependency increases with age (OCDE 2013), it seems normal that help received raises with age.

  22. 22.

    For sibling rivalry, see Buchanan (1983), Bernheim et al. (1985), Behrman (1997) and Chang and Luo (2015).

  23. 23.

    In particular, if we have \(\frac {da}{dy}=\frac {-H_{mm}p + H_{am}}{-{\Delta }_{a}}= \)0, it must be that H a m = H m m P . Using this, we get \(\frac {da}{dw}=\frac {da}{dp}=\frac {-H_{m}}{-{\Delta }_{a}}<0\)

  24. 24.

    It can be verified that if H a m =0, \(\frac {db}{dy}\) reduces to \(\frac {-H_{mm}}{-{\Lambda }_{b}}>0\)

References

  1. Alessie R, Angelini V, Pasini G (2014) Is it true love? Altruism versus exchange in time and money transfers. De Economist 162(2):193–213

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Becker GS (1974) A theory of social interactions. J Polit Econ 82(6):1063–1093

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Behrman JR (1997) Intrahousehold distribution and the family. In: Rosenzweig MR, Stark O (eds) Handbook of population and family economics, chapter 4. Elsevier, North-Holland, pp 125–187

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bernheim BD, Shleifer A, Summers L (1985) The strategic bequest motive. J Polit Econ 93(6):1045–1076

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bianchi SM, Hotz VJ, McGarry K, Seltzer JA (2008) Intergenerational ties: alternative theories, empirical findings and trends, and remaining challenges. In: Booth A, Crouter AC, Bianchi SM, Seltzer JA (eds) Intergenerational Caregiving. The Urban Institute Press, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bonsang E (2009) Does informal care from children to their elderly parents substitute for formal care in Europe? J Health Econ 28(1):143–154

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Brown S, Nesse R, Vinokur A, Smith D (2003) Providing social support may be more beneficial than receiving it. Results from a perspective study of mortality. Psychol Sci 14(4):320–327

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Buchanan JM (1983) Rent seeking, noncompensated transfers, and laws of succession. J Law Econ 26(1):71–85

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Burton L, Zdaniuk B, Schultz R, Jackson S, Hirsch C (2003) Transitions in spousal caregiving. Gerontologist 43(2):230–41

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Canta C, Pestieau P (2014) Long term care and family norm. BE J Econ Anal Poli 14(2):401–428

    Google Scholar 

  11. Chang Y-M, Luo Z (2015) Endogenous division rules as a family constitution: strategic altruistic transfers and sibling competition. J Popul Econ 28(1):173–194

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Chiappori P-A (1988) Rational household labor supply. Econometrica 56 (1):63–89

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Cigno A (1993) Intergenerational transfers without altruism. Eur J Politi Econ 9(4):505–518

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Cigno A, Giannelli GC, Rosati FC (1998) Voluntary transfers among Italian households: altruistic and non-altruistic explananations. Struct Change Econ Dynam 9(4):435–451

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Cigno A, Giannelli GC, Rosati FC (2006) Is there such a thing as a family constitution? a test based on credit rationing. Rev Econ Househ 4(3):183–204

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Cremer H, Pestieau P, Ponthière G (2012) The economics of long-term care: a survey. Nordic Econ Policy Rev 2:108–148

    Google Scholar 

  17. Duan N, Manning WG, Morris CN, Newhouse JP (1983) A comparison of alternative models for the demand for medical care. J Bus Econ Stat 1(2):115–126

    Google Scholar 

  18. Glazer A, Kondo H (2014) Governmental transfers and altruistic private transfers. J Popul Econ 28(2):509–533

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Hirst M (2005) Carer distress: a prospective, population-based study. Soc Sci Med 61(3):697–708

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Laferrère A, Wolff FC (2006) Microeconomic models of family transfers. In: Kolm SC, Mercier Ythier J (eds) Handbook on the economics of giving, reciprocity and altruism, chapter 13. Elsevier, North-Holland, pp 890–971

    Google Scholar 

  21. Mellor J (2001) Long-term care and nursing home coverage: are adult children substitutes for insurance policies? J Health Econ 20(4):527–547

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Mundlak Y (1978) On the pooling of time series and cross section data. Econometrica 46(1):69–85

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. OCDE (2013) Public spending on health and long-term care: a new set of projections. OCDE Economic Policy Papers, 6

  24. Perelman S, Pestieau P (1992) Inheritance and wealth composition. J Popul Econ 5(4):305–317

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Pinquart M, Sörensen S (2003) Differences between caregivers and non-caregivers in psychological health and physical health: a meta-analysis. Psychol aging 18(2):250–267

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Pollak R (1985) A transaction cost approach to families and households. J Econ Lit 23(2):581–608

    Google Scholar 

  27. Ponthière G (2013) Long-term care, altruism and socialization. BE J Econ Anal Poli 14(2):429–471

    Google Scholar 

  28. Schulz R, O’Brien AT, Bookwala J, Fleissner K (1995) Psychiatric and physical morbidity effects of dementia caregiving: prevalence, correlates, and causes. Gerontologist 35(6):771–791

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Schulz R, Sherwood PR (2008) Physical and mental health effects of family caregiving. J Soc Work Educ 44(3):105–113

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Schwarze J, Winkelmann R (2011) Happiness and altruism within the extended family. J Popul Econ 24(3):1033–1051

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Tarlow B, Wisniewski S, Belle S, Rubert M, Ory M, Gallagher-Thompson D (2004) Positive aspects of caregiving. Res Aging 26(4):429–453

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Van Houtven C, Coe N, Skira M (2013) The effect of informal care on work and wages. J Health Econ 32(1):240–252

  33. Vitaliano P, Zhang J, Scanlan J (2003) Is caregiving hazardous to one’s physical health? a meta-analysis. Psychol Bull 129(6):946–972

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to anonymous referees for their constructive comments and suggestions that significantly improved the paper. We also thank Eric Bonsang, Anne Laferrère and the participants of the fifth SHARE user conference in Luxembourg and CRESUS project Mid-Term Workshop in Antwerp for their helpful comments. We appreciate the methodological suggestions made by Vincent Starck, Bernard Lejeune and Julien Jacqmin. The authors remain responsible for all remaining errors. The financial support from the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) research project CRESUS is gratefully acknowledged. This paper uses data from SHARE wave 4 release 1.1.1, as of March 28, 2013 (DOI: 10.6103/SHARE.w4.111) or SHARE waves 1 and 2 release 2.6.0, as of November 29, 2013 (DOIs: 10.6103/SHARE.w1.260 and 10.6103/SHARE.w2.260) or SHARELIFE release 1.0.0, as of November 24, 2010 (DOI: 10.6103/SHARE.w3.100). The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through the fifth Framework Programme (project QLK6-CT-2001-00360 in the thematic programme Quality of Life), through the 6th Framework Programme (projects SHARE-I3, RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE, CIT5-CT-2005-028857, and SHARELIFE, CIT4-CT-2006-028812) and through the 7th Framework Programme (SHARE-PREP, N 211909, SHARE-LEAP, No. 227822 and SHARE M4, No. 261982). Additional funding from the US National Institute on Aging (U01 AG09740-13S2, P01 AG005842, P01 AG08291, P30 AG12815, R21 AG025169, Y1-AG-4553-01, IAG BSR06-11 and OGHA 04-064) and the German Ministry of Education and Research as well as from various national sources is gratefully acknowledged (see www.share-project.org for a full list of funding institutions).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jerome Schoenmaeckers.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Alessandro Cigno

Appendix

Appendix

Table 11 Descriptive statistics for single-parent households
Table 12 Tobit models with Mundlak approach (all)
Table 13 Tobit models with Mundlak approach (single-parent households)
Table 14 Tobit models with fixed endowments method and Mundlak approach (all)
Table 15 Tobit models with fixed endowments method and Mundlak approach (single-parent households)
Table 16 Summary of empirical findings (Mundlak approaches robustness tests/all vs. single-parent households)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Klimaviciute, J., Perelman, S., Pestieau, P. et al. Caring for dependent parents: Altruism, exchange or family norm?. J Popul Econ 30, 835–873 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00148-017-0635-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • Long-term care
  • Intergenerational transfers
  • Informal care
  • Altruism
  • Exchange
  • Family norm

JEL Classification

  • D13
  • J14
  • D64