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Demographic change, intergenerational exchanges and the family, household, kin and social networks of older people

Demographic change, intergenerational exchanges and the family, household, kin and social networks of older people

There is concern in many societies that demographic and social changes may mean that the family support available to older people may be diminishing just as the proportion of older people is increasing. Changes in living arrangements, including an increased tendency for older people to live alone, have contributed to this concern. While there has been much debate on current and future family support for older people, it is also important to recognise that older people provide a lot of help to younger relatives, including, for example, helping with grandchildren.

In this programme of work, Emily Grundy and collaborators have examined current and future demographic availability of children for older populations in Europe; intergenerational exchanges in Britain and the USA; household transitions, including transitions to living with relatives or to institutional care in England and Wales, and implications of providing care for grandchildren on the psychosocial health of older people in Chile.

In continuing work we are examining how number and gender of children is associated with the provision of support to older people in England (with Sanna Read) and comparing the mortality of older people in communal establishments (such as nursing homes) in Belgium and England and Wales (with Michel Poulain).

Future planned work will examine further how intergenerational exchanges are associated with the health and well being of older Europeans.


Key publications include:

  • Grundy E (2005). Reciprocity in relationships: socio-economic and health influences on intergenerational exchanges between Third Age parents and their adult children in Great Britain. The British Journal of Sociology, 52 (2): 233-255.
  • Young, H, E Grundy and S Kalogirou (2005). Who cares? Geographical variation in informal caregiving in England and Wales: evidence from the 2001 Census. Population Trends; 120 23-34.
  • Grundy, E, Henretta, J. (2006). Between parents and adult children: a new look at the intergenerational care provided by the ‘sandwich generation’. Ageing & Society 26:707-722.
  • Grundy, Emily MD. (2007). Demographic change, family support, and ageing well: developed country perspectives. In: Dangour, AD, Grundy EMD, Fletcher AE. (eds), Ageing well: Nutrition, health, and social interventions. CRC Press, London. Pp 85-102.
  • Grundy E and Jitlal M (2007). Socio-demographic variations in moves to institutional care 1991-2001: a record linkage study from England and Wales. Age and Ageing 36: 1-7.
  • Grundy E, (2008). The challenges of ageing: Prospects for the family support of older people in 21st century Europe. In:, Surkyn J; Deboosere P; Van Bavel J (eds), Demographic Challenges for the 21st Century: A state of the art in demography Liber Amicorum Ron Lesthaeghe,VUBPRESS Brussels University Press, Brussels, 2008, pp224-246. ISBN 978 90 5487 447 8.
  • Tomassini C, Grundy E, Kalogirou S (2008). Potential family support for older people 2000-2030. In: Gaymu J, Festy P, Poulain M and Beets G (eds), Future elderly living conditions in Europe, Institut National d’Etudes Demographiques, Paris, ISBS 978-7332-0163-3, pp 71-96.
  • Grundy E (2010). Family support for older people: determinants and consequences in Ageing in advanced industrial societies: Riding the age waves, Volume 3 H., Tuljapurkar S; Ogawa N; Gauthier A(eds), Springer (Dordrecht/New York/London) 3:197-222
  • Grundy E (2011). Household transitions and subsequent mortality among older people in England and Wales: trends over three decades. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2011;65(4):353-9
  • Grundy EM, Albala C, Allen E, Dangour AD, Elbourne D, Uauy R. Grandparenting and psychosocial health among older Chileans: A longitudinal analysis. Aging Ment Health. 2012 Jun 12. [Epub ahead of print]
  • McCann M, Grundy E, O'Reilly D.(2012).Why is housing tenure associated with a lower risk of admission to a nursing or residential home? Wealth, health and the incentive to keep 'my home'. J Epidemiol Community Health. Feb;66(2):166-9. Epub 2011 Oct 19.