CARING project
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Early life choices in the process of family formation could reflect in the availability of later potential for care giving, or demands for it. CARING investigates the contribution of early family formation trajectories on explaining differences in intergenerational relations and support patterns later in life. Country differences in the demography of family-linked life stages, and how these reflect on caring responsibilities, have remained largely unexplored. But the timing of family formation and dissolution, childbirth and grand-parenting are key transitions with bearing on entitlements and obligations to inter-household (reciprocal) solidarity and support.

To address these issues CARING explores the effects of family diversification (childlessness, union dissolution and fertility postponement) on intergenerational relations and support in 5 selected countries: Italy, East and West Germany, France, Denmark and Czech Republic. Sequence analysis on data from SHARE surveys compare family trajectories (partnerships and fertility over 34 years, at ages 16-46) for individuals from the birth cohorts 1927-58.

Family formation trajectories contribute to the study of: current patterns of relations, upward support and downward support through hierarchical multinomial logit models. Results are validated on fertility trajectories for larger sample sizes and younger birth cohorts (1957-64). The project adopts a comparative multi-generational perspective with a focus on three generations, helping shed light on the ‘caring potential’ for the new generations, experiencing longer and thinner (beanpole) families and increasing rates of childlessness.