AbstractsPolitical Science

Who receives parental help? : Parental financial support and practical help for adult children from the perspectives of givers and receivers

by Karoliina Majamaa

Institution: University of Helsinki
Department: Department of Social Studies
Year: 2015
Keywords: yhteiskuntapolitiikka
Record ID: 1141630
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/152713


Parental help and its importance among young adults in a post-industrial, information society has not received much attention in the Finnish discourse of social policy. However, the intensified insecurity in the labour market in recent decades as well as the diminishing state support following the 1990s recession have compromised the economic independence of young adults. It seems that parents have stepped in and are giving more support to their adult children, especially during the transition phase to adulthood. The aim of this study was to extend the discourse to include parental help and its significance, and also to assess the implications if parents do not give any support to their adult children. In short, the study considers parental help from the perspectives of both the receivers and the givers. The purpose is thus to find answers to the question of who are the receivers of parental help. A further aim is to enhance understanding of intergenerational solidarity by focusing more closely on parental help as one form of intergenerational support. The study relies largely on two sets of survey data, which Statistics Finland drew up in 2007. The two sets of survey data covered two generations, the so-called Finnish baby boomers, and their adult children. The former sample comprised 1,998 randomly selected Finns born between 1945 and 1950, and the latter included 3,391 of their adult children born between 1962 and 1988. The respective response rates were 56 (n=1,115) and 42 (n=1,435) per cent. The results revealed that almost all the adult children received financial support or practical help from their parent(s), especially help with childcare, and almost all parents gave some kind of help to their adult child(ren). Help was given in particular to children with a low level of resources in a life phase when the need was most acute, such as following the birth of a grandchild. Furthermore, parents who were better off helped and supported their adult children more frequently than those with fewer resources. Comparisons among the givers and receivers of help revealed, most significantly, that a poor socio-economic position was associated positively with receiving and negatively with giving financial support. The picture was somewhat different with regard to practical help: there was interplay between the socio-economic variables and practical help given and received, but to a lesser extent than with financial support. Furthermore, there seemed to be a generational chain connecting the parents and their adult children. According to the results, intergenerational love and affection as well as need and lacking resources among the children combined with high parental resources appeared to be at the heart of the parental support. Most parents hope that their grown-up children will eventually stand on their own feed, and withholding financial support seemed to stem from this desire. However, the availability of parental support generates inequality in the life transitions of adult children, which will probably get…