Non-kin ties as a source of support in Europe: understanding the role of cultural and institutional contexts

Nina Conkova, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Tineke Fokkema, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Pearl Dykstra, Erasmus University Rotterdam

This study scrutinises the role of cultural and institutional contexts in shaping Europeans’ choices for a source of support. We draw attention to an often overlooked source of support: non-kin. Taking an interdisciplinary theoretical approach, we formulate a number of hypotheses on the impact of individualistic values, familialistic norms, generalised trust, and social protection expenditure. We test these contextual hypotheses by means of multilevel multinomial models employing European Quality of Life Survey data from 28 countries. Our findings reveal that more generous social protection expenditure seems to create a sense of solidarity that bolsters people to rely on non-kin. This impact is however weaker than that of cultural context. Regarding individualistic values and norms of family obligations, we find that the latter are of a greater importance in predicting behavioural intentions. Finally, our findings evince that in countries with lower rather than with higher levels of generalised trust people are more likely to turn to non-kin. We argue that this effect is driven by the inclusion of a vast number of Central and Eastern European countries, which share a distinct post-communist context.

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 Presented in Session 19. Policy Issues