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Intergenerational proximity and distance over 200 years: examples from two Swedish regions
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In most Western societies of today populations are ageing, which is expected to pose new challenges to the welfare state. Still, the family might also be affected by an ageing population, if more extensive needs of the elderly cannot be met by the welfare state. For the family, one important factor for managing intergenerational interaction is geographical proximity, and living close has been shown to be a vital prerequisite for help and assistance between elderly parents and adult children. When it comes to the possibility to interact with kin, a common notion has been that as society develops through industrialisation, urbanisation and individualisation, families and kin become less dependent on each other and more spread out geographically, which would challenge their possibilities to offer assistance to each other. In this paper, intergenerational geographical distance in modern and historical times is examined through the unique possibility to combine population register data from six cross-section years stretching from 1820 to 2002. The main finding from the study is that there has been a dramatic decrease over time in generations living extremely close to each other. On the other hand, when it comes to having an adult child within time adjusted daily reach the decline has been much less drastic. Intergenerational geographical distances, beyond the extreme proximity, thus seem to be stable and resilient even though society is changing.

Keyword [en]
family, elderly parents, intergenerational, geographical proximity, ageing
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-38874OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-38874DiVA: diva2:383781
Available from: 2011-01-05 Created: 2011-01-05 Last updated: 2011-01-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. A family landscape: On the geographical distances between elderly parents and adult children in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A family landscape: On the geographical distances between elderly parents and adult children in Sweden
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

With a background in the ageing of the population and the new challenges facing individuals, families and the welfare state, the aim of this thesis is to analyse the changing family landscape and the geographical distances between elderly parents and adult children.

The thesis consists of four empirical studies derived from three different sources of data: In the first paper (Paper I), historical population data is combined with modern register data for two Swedish regions. In the second and third papers, individual-level register data covering the entire Swedish population serves as the empirical starting point. The fourth paper leaves the registers aside and builds upon interviews. Paper I provides an introduction and historical background to the question of intergenerational geographical proximity and distance. The paper analyses intergenerational distances and seeks to compare and discuss the significance of the variations. It is shown that concerning extreme proximity a great decrease has occurred over 200 years, however when it comes to having kin within reach the decrease is less dramatic, and that now, just as then, a majority of elderly parents have an adult child within reach. The article concludes that even though geographical distances between generations vary over time and space, no clear linear trend towards intergenerational geographical separation can be established. In Paper II we analyse some features and trends in intergenerational distances in Sweden. We find that 10% of all elderly parents have at least one child living very close and that a majority, 85%, have an adult child within reach. The study shows no clear trend towards increasing intergenerational separation, but suggests that periods of intense societal restructuring, such urbanisation, can lead to spells of increased intergenerational separation on an aggregated level. Paper III investigates whether, and to what extent, elderly parents and adult children move close to each other. We find that even though the older generation makes up a smaller share of the moves made, when they do move they are more likely to move closer to an adult child. Further, having more than one relative at a destination adds to the attraction, and that older elderly are less likely to move close to a child than younger elderly. One interpretation is that young-old parents serve as a resource for their adult children, while older elderly are more influenced by the need for welfare state based assistance. The last paper, IV, returns to the elderly parents living very close to an adult child. In interviews with 14 elderly the aim of the paper is to gain new understanding about the interaction between intergenerational proximity, assistance and the meaning of being close. Some of the issues raised in the paper relate to migration histories, reciprocity and independence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå university, Department of Social and Economic Geography, 2011. 80 p.
Series
GERUM, ISSN 1402-5205 ; 2011:1
Keyword
Family, elderly parents, adult children, intergenerational, child-parent proximity, migration, distance, ageing, support, register data, Sweden
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-38876 (URN)978-91-978344-5-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-01-28, Samhällsvetarhuset, hörsal D, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
I två av delarbetena har författaren efternamnet Pettersson.Available from: 2011-01-07 Created: 2011-01-05 Last updated: 2012-07-10Bibliographically approved

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