Family Support Networks and Population Ageing

Presentations from a seminar of experts

No. of pages: 124

Publication date: 2010

Author: More than 20 papers with different authors

Publisher: UNFPA

These papers are compiled from a seminar that brought together 24 experts from all world regions to discuss such questions as: How will developing countries meet the growing demands posed by a rapidly ageing population? How will the state position itself vis-a-vis the family? How will the changing family structure reformulate the intergenerational contract? What will be the role of non-governmental, community and faith-based organizations in filling the gap due to the diminishing role played by the government and the family? Among the main messages are that family support networks are the lifeline for older persons. Whether or not they live under one roof, both young and old can continue to maintain contacts, and to contribute to each other’s welfare and the welfare of the family with financial or in-kind support.

The volume attempts to cover a wide ranging set of issues, from those purely demographic to those involving transfer rules rooted in cultural norms. The elderlies’ fortune or misfortune will be decided and settled within a complex ground where new ideologies, new fertility regimes, new morbidity and mortality patterns as well as a new balance between private markets and state-based interventions.

In most societies, the government expects the family to care for its elderly members. In many cases, families indeed provide the necessary support. But not all of them are able to do so. The level of support that families can provide is influenced to a great extent by the level of support which families receive from their overnments. If there are no programmes and safety nets in place, families that are themselves struggling to make ends meet may find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to provide for the needs of elderly family members. If older family members become frail or disabled, families alone may not be able to provide the necessary medical care.Thus, family support should be complementary to that of the government, and neither family nor government should shirk their responsibilities.