The Elderly and their Families, 1979-94: Changing Networks and Relationships
This article analyses the changes occurring in the structure of the family network of older people and their family interactions over a 15-year period. Data are from two Swiss cross-sectional surveys carried out on a random sample of people aged 65-94 years, in 1979 (N = 1519) and 1994 (N = 1447). Both were conducted in two specific regions, namely, the Alpine canton of Valais, steeped in a rural tradition, and the city-canton of Geneva. Our results show a widening of the family circle due to increased life expectancy and a sharp drop in the number of childless families in the urban region because of the baby boom; at the same time, family ties multiplied, contrary to the widely held view that family relationships are weakening. Furthermore, while in 1979 each region had its own specific family culture, an alignment of family structures and relationships in the two regions took place over the 15-year period. Finally, an analysis of the instrumental support relationships based on the 1994 survey reveals the strong involvement of the elderly in their families.
Vollenwyder, N., Bickel, J.-F., Lalive d’Epinay, C., & Maystre, C. (2002). The Elderly and their Families, 1979-94: Changing Networks and Relationships. Current Sociology, 50(2), 263-280.