Aiding and Aging: The Coming Crisis in Support for the Elderly by Kin and State

By John Mogey | Go to book overview

2
THE ROLE OF THE FAMILY IN THE
CARE OF THE ELDERLY IN HUNGARY
Rudolf Andorka
RECENT TRENDS
Three important tendencies were usually accepted in the social sciences twenty to twenty-five years ago as characterizing the next decades in advanced societies:
1. the aging of the population in consequence of the improvement of life expectancy and most of all, in consequence of the decline of fertility;
2. the decline of the role of the family and of kinship;
3. the growth of the welfare state in providing services for the elderly.

The aging of the population came true, although the life expectancy at birth of males slightly deteriorated since the mid-1960s and the life expectancy of females ceased to improve. The level of fertility is, however, since the end of the 1950s almost continuously below replacement level, causing a sharp decline of the percentage of the young population and in consequence a rise of the population aged 60 or more from 13.8 percent in 1960 to 18.4 percent in 1987.

The two other predicted tendencies, however, did not come true. Services provided by the state are unable to satisfy the demands of the population in any field, especially in caring for the elderly in Hungary. Therefore, families necessarily have to take upon themselves an important part of the care for their old parents and other relatives. In consequence of demographic and social changes, however, providing this care is becoming increasingly difficult for families. In a small but increasing number of cases, when the elderly do not have children who are able to care for them, the living conditions and the quality of life of elderly persons may become extremely difficult.

-35-

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