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Proximity and Contacts Between Older Parents and Their Children: A European Comparison


Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging, University of Mannheim, Building L 13-17, D-68131 Mannheim, Germany (


Using data from the 2004 Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, this article continues and extends recent cross-national research on proximity and contacts of older parents to their children. In addition to a brief description of the geography of families in 10 continental European countries, determinants of intergenerational proximity and contacts are examined. Even when microlevel factors are controlled for, the Mediterranean peoples continue to exhibit closer family relations than their northern counterparts. I also find noteworthy systematic differences in the effects of some explanatory variables between traditionally weak- and strong-family countries. When looking at the contemporary European picture as a whole, I find no indication for a decline of intergenerational relations.