Cornelia Mureşan

Norms of Filial Obligation and Actual Support to Parents in Central and Eastern Europe

Cornelia Mureşan, Paul-Teodor Hărăguş

Article information

Volume: IX Issue: 2, Pages: 49-82
Cornelia Mureşan, Paul-Teodor Hărăguş
Babeş-Bolyai University, Faculty of Sociology and Social Work,
128, bd.21 Decembrie 1989, Cluj-Napoca, Romania,


Country differences in intergenerational relationships are not only attributable to economic, policy, housing contexts but also to a cultural tendency towards closer intergenerational ties. This study is a cross-national comparison regarding the relationship between norms of filial obligation and actual giving of financial support and care in several Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries as compared to Western Europe. We examine to what extent norms of filial obligation are consistent with helping behaviour, whether the responsiveness to norms varies by country context, and whether CEE countries differ from societies benefiting of more generous public support to ageing people. The data used in this study come from the Generation and Gender Programme. We show that actual support to parents is not more prevalent in CEE than in Western European (WE) countries, even if norms of filial obligations are more strongly expressed. On the contrary, emotional support has a higher prevalence in WE. However, the connection between filial responsibility and instrumental care is stronger in CEE, while the connection between financial help and norms of filial obligation is stronger in WE. In CEE countries contrasting mechanisms may play: in some countries people have no choice but to assist parents in need financially, but in others they do not provide such help as they do not consider financial support being part of their filial obligations. Interestingly, we did not find any connection between filial responsibility and emotional support to parents, neither in East nor in West European countries.

Keywords: Intergenerational solidarity, norms of filial obligations, support to parents, country contexts, Central and Eastern Europe, Generations and Gender Programme


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