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Intergenerational Transfers to Adult Children in Europe: Do Social Policies Matter?


  • University of Cologne, Research Institute for Sociology, Greinst 2, 50939 Cologne, Germany (

  • This paper was edited by David Demo.

Munich Centre for the Economics of Aging, Max-Planck-Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Amalienst 33, 80799 Munich, Germany (


Understanding the role of social policies in intergenerational transfers from old to young people is especially important in times of population aging. This paper focuses on the influences of social expenditures and social services on financial support and on practical help from older parents to their adult children based on the first two waves from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE, N = 60,250 dyads from 13 European countries). Multilevel models showed that social policy plays an important role for intergenerational transfer patterns: The more public assistance was provided to citizens, the more likely parents supported their adult children financially and practically, but this support was less intense in terms of money and time given. Thus, the analyses support the specialization hypothesis that posits a division of labor between family and state for downward intergenerational transfers.