Academic journal article Polish Sociological Review

Does Adult Children Migration Lower the Level of Intergenerational Solidarity? Evidence from Lithuanian Transnational Families

Academic journal article Polish Sociological Review

Does Adult Children Migration Lower the Level of Intergenerational Solidarity? Evidence from Lithuanian Transnational Families

Article excerpt

Abstract: Within the context of high filial norms and a limited formal care system for the elderly in Lithuania the paper examines the effects of adult children migration on intergenerational solidarity from elderly parents left behind perspective. More specifically, we analyze if changed geographic proximity as a result of adult children migration has crucial effects on the associational, affectual and functional dimensions of solidarity or it is (also) being predicted by other individual and familial factors. The analysis is based on a quantitative survey of elderly parents (N = 305) with at least one migrant child. The results suggest that even if adult children migration has some negative impact for associational solidarity (and to a certain extent, for affectual one), in a way it is being compensated with positive impact on functional solidarity in terms of financial support. While greater geographic proximity as a result of adult children migration is the crucial factor of associational solidarity and determines some forms of functional solidarity, the affectual dimension of solidarity is being shaped by other familial and individual predictors.

Keywords: migration, elderly parents, intergenerational solidarity, predictors of intergenerational solidarity.

Introduction

Due to increased migration and mobility, a growing number of transnational families has become a common feature of the contemporary society. Likewise Poland (Krzyzowski & Mucha 2013), Lithuania has experienced significant demographic changes over the last decades and the numbers of transnational families have increased. It is estimated that from the restoration of independence in 1990 to 2011 more than one sixth of the Lithuanian population has emigrated; and the net migration rate per 1000 inhabitants is the highest in the EU (Sipavicienè 2013). The emigration processes have accelerated after the accession to the EU that allowed free movement of citizens within the Member States. The main destination countries still remain the UK and Ireland, more popular are becoming the Scandinavian countries (especially Norway) and Germany (Statistics Lithuania 2015). The difference between migrants by gender is insignificant, and their age structure is young (the highest proportion of migrants comprise age group from 15-34). Yet the proportions of those aged 35 to 50 are also relatively high (Statistics Lithuania 2015).

The increased migration flows coincide with rapid population ageing in Lithuania. As the share of older people is increasing the sustainability of the welfare state and provision of support within the family network needs to be reconsidered. The problem of availability of familial networks to elderly parents is exacerbated by low fertility rates which narrow the horizontal networks of potentional care providers.

Despite the severe consequences of these demographic processes, the issue of migration effects on the intergenerational relationships has not received enough attention nor in Lithuania neither in the other Baltic states. From one point of view Lithuania can be an example of the consequences of migration in the context of limited formal support system for the elderly. Also, it represents a case where the norms of filial responsibility are strong (Gedvilaite-Kordusienè 2013; Kraniauskienè 2013). Within this context the absence of potential care providers may be experienced by elderly parents more painfully compared to countries with better developed formal care systems in which the obligation to care for older parents is not so strong. This makes Lithuania an interesting case to explore the predictors of intergenerational solidarity within the context of migration. The study aims to answer if changed geographic proximity as a result of adult children migration has a crucial effect on intergenerational solidarity or it is (also) being predicted by other individual and familial factors. In the light of intergenerational solidarity approach, we explore the predictors of associational, affectual and functional dimensions of solidarity. …

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