European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 249–259 | Cite as

The balance of intergenerational family transfers: a life-cycle perspective

  • Stipica Mudrazija
Original Investigation


The aim of this study is to determine the likelihood and net amount of parent–child transfers over the adult life cycle across European welfare regimes. The study introduces an economic life-cycle model of family transfers to describe the evolution of family exchanges across generations over time, which reveals a nonlinear relationship of age and net family transfers. Furthermore, it refines the method of estimating parent–child net transfers. Data come from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe, and include 36,095 parent–child dyads from 11 European countries representing social democratic, conservative, and traditional welfare-state regimes. The findings reveal net value of family intergenerational support follows a nonlinear pattern across the adult life cycle, with positive transfers from parents to adult children decreasing modestly until advanced old age when the decrease intensifies. Net family support benefits individuals and generations with larger relative need. The transition in the net family support pattern starts later and is less pronounced across social democratic welfare-regime countries while the opposite is true in traditional welfare-regime countries. These findings might be interpreted as being linked to differences in the public policies guaranteeing different levels of provision for dependent populations across different welfare regimes. They are consistent with a comparatively smaller role of family support in the intergenerational redistribution of resources in societies with larger public intergenerational support to dependent populations.


Intergenerational transfers Life cycle Welfare regimes SHARE 



The author is grateful to the Editor, two anonymous reviewers, Dr. Jacqueline Angel and Dr. Donald Cox, for their helpful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this manuscript. This paper uses data from SHARE wave 2 release 2.5.0, as of May 24th 2011. The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through the 5th Framework Programme (project QLK6-CT-2001-00360 in the thematic program 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, N° 227822 and SHARE M4, N° 261982). Additional funding from the U.S. 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 for a full list of funding institutions).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, School of Social WorkUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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