NorLAG Den norske studien av livsløp, aldring og generasjon

Family norms in Europe: An east-west divide

Bestemor lager pannekaker med barnebarn. Foto:
by thomas

A new study on attitudes towards family responsibilities in eastern and western Europe asks: Should adult children care for their parents when they need help? Do parents have responsibility for adult children after they are legally adults?

The article (English title: Between generations: Attitudes towards family responsibilities in the East and West of Europe) is published in the Norwegian journal “Nordisk Østforum”. The authors Katharina Herlofson, Svein Olav Daatland, and Marijke Veenstra address the strength and character of family responsibility norms in Eastern and Western Europe. The strength is measured by the level of support for filial and parental responsibilities (i.e., adult children’s obligations towards older parents and vice-versa) and the character is indicated by the priority given to the older or the younger generation. For the analyses, we employ data from thirteen Eastern and Western European countries participating in the Generations and Gender Survey. In general, family norms are stronger in the East than in the West, but it is difficult to establish where to draw a dividing line. The contrast between the two extremes, Norway and Sweden in the north-west and Georgia in the south-east, is striking. The remaining countries line up quite close along the geographical diagonal (from Scandinavia to Georgia). The character of the norms is less clearly distributed – whereas almost all countries in Eastern Europe give priority to the older generation, the picture in the West is more mixed. The results partly confirm earlier conclusions about east-west differences in family responsibility norms, but adding more countries to the analyses has revealed a more complex and ambiguous picture than presented in previous studies.

See report about the study in ScienceNorway here.  

Download article here.



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