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A family landscape On the geographical distances between elderly parents and adult children in Sweden

Hjälm, Anna, 1977- (författare)
Umeå universitet, Kulturgeografiska institutionen
Umeå universitet Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten. Kulturgeografiska institutionen. (creator_code:org_t)
ISBN 978-91-978344-5-2
Umeå : Umeå university, Department of Social and Economic Geography, 2011
Engelska 80 s.
Serie: GERUM, 1402-5205 ; 2011:1
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  • Doktorsavhandling (övrigt vetenskapligt)
Abstract Ämnesord
  • With a background in the ageing of the population and the new challenges facing individuals, families and the welfare state, the aim of this thesis is to analyse the changing family landscape and the geographical distances between elderly parents and adult children. The thesis consists of four empirical studies derived from three different sources of data: In the first paper (Paper I), historical population data is combined with modern register data for two Swedish regions. In the second and third papers, individual-level register data covering the entire Swedish population serves as the empirical starting point. The fourth paper leaves the registers aside and builds upon interviews. Paper I provides an introduction and historical background to the question of intergenerational geographical proximity and distance. The paper analyses intergenerational distances and seeks to compare and discuss the significance of the variations. It is shown that concerning extreme proximity a great decrease has occurred over 200 years, however when it comes to having kin within reach the decrease is less dramatic, and that now, just as then, a majority of elderly parents have an adult child within reach. The article concludes that even though geographical distances between generations vary over time and space, no clear linear trend towards intergenerational geographical separation can be established. In Paper II we analyse some features and trends in intergenerational distances in Sweden. We find that 10% of all elderly parents have at least one child living very close and that a majority, 85%, have an adult child within reach. The study shows no clear trend towards increasing intergenerational separation, but suggests that periods of intense societal restructuring, such urbanisation, can lead to spells of increased intergenerational separation on an aggregated level. Paper III investigates whether, and to what extent, elderly parents and adult children move close to each other. We find that even though the older generation makes up a smaller share of the moves made, when they do move they are more likely to move closer to an adult child. Further, having more than one relative at a destination adds to the attraction, and that older elderly are less likely to move close to a child than younger elderly. One interpretation is that young-old parents serve as a resource for their adult children, while older elderly are more influenced by the need for welfare state based assistance. The last paper, IV, returns to the elderly parents living very close to an adult child. In interviews with 14 elderly the aim of the paper is to gain new understanding about the interaction between intergenerational proximity, assistance and the meaning of being close. Some of the issues raised in the paper relate to migration histories, reciprocity and independence.


SAMHÄLLSVETENSKAP  -- Social och ekonomisk geografi (hsv//swe)
SOCIAL SCIENCES  -- Social and Economic Geography (hsv//eng)


elderly parents
adult children
child-parent proximity
register data
SOCIAL SCIENCES Business and economics Human geography, economic geography
SAMHÄLLSVETENSKAP Ekonomi Kulturgeografi, ekonomisk geografi
Social and Economic Geography

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