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Research publication:

Inter-generational financial giving and inequality

(give and take in 21st century families)

Rowlingson, Karen | Joseph, Ricky | Overton, Louise
Publication overview:
This book makes a major contribution to our understanding of 21st Century families in Britain through an exploration of inter-generational relationships, drawing on extensive new quantitative and qualitative research. Our focus for exploring these relationships is the giving and receiving of financial gifts. We use this lens to explore inter-generational relationships at both the macro level (in society as a whole) and also the micro level (within families). Despite growing concern about inter-generational tension and even possible conflict, we find, to the contrary, evidence of a significant degree of inter-generational solidarity both within families at the micro level and between generations more generally within society in Britain. However, given substantial inequalities within different generations (as a result, in particular, of social class divisions), some families are able to support each other far more than others. This means that strong inter-generational solidarity may lead to the entrenchment of existing intra-generational inequalities.
The book begins by setting out the current state of knowledge on families, inter-generational relationships, gifts and inequality. It then reviews existing data on the changing nature of family structures and relationships in general and financial exchanges in particular. The book then draws on our extensive new qualitative and quantitative empirical research, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, to explore key issues related to the extent and nature of financial transfers across generations in both directions (‘down’ and ‘up’ ). We consider why, and how, people finance such transfers and also explore the impact of lifetime gifts on both the recipients and the donors. Finally, we again draw on our new empirical work to discuss social norms and public attitudes to inter-generational giving. Where possible, we compare our data with previous studies to measure any shifts in behaviour or attitudes.

Book -- 2017