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Pro-elderly welfare states within child-oriented societies

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journal contribution
posted on 23.03.2018 by Róbert Iván Gál, Pieter Vanhuysse, Lili Vargha

Families and policies both are main vehicles of intergenerational transfers. Working-age people are net contributors; children and older persons net beneficiaries. However, there is an asymmetry in socialization. Working-age people pay taxes and social security contributions to institutionalize care for older persons as a generation, but invest private resources to raise their own children, often with large social returns. This results in asymmetric statistical visibility. Elderly transfers are near-fully observed in National Accounts; those to children much less. Analysing ten European societies, we employ National Transfer Accounts to include public and private transfers, and National Time Transfer Accounts to value unpaid household labour. All three transfer channels combined, children receive more than twice as many per-capita resources as older persons. Europe is a continent of elderly-oriented welfare states and strongly child-oriented parents. Since children are ever-scarcer public goods in aging societies, why has investment in them not been socialized more?


This contribution was written as part of the AGENTA project funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union (grant agreement no 613247) and the ‘Taking Age Discrimination Seriously’ project, based at the Institute of State and Law (Prague) and funded by the Grantová Agentura České Republiky (grant number 17-266295).