Économie et Statistique n° 373 Family support - An attempt at a quantification and valuation of voluntary work - An economic evaluation of the landscape - Evaluation of the equalising performance of central government financial assistance to the communs
Family support, economic independence and sociability
An optimistic view of family support has spread over the last two decades, as Western societies have seen the re-emergence of poverty and questioned the purposes of their welfare state. The relatively modest volume of exchanges within the family and their lack of redistributive effects between social groups are challenging what has become this classic picture of «family solidarity». These exchanges are least developed among the working classes, who are the main beneficiaries of public social welfare policies. Family solidarity is expressed more by coresidence and «extended family» forms of domestic organisation. Among the intermediate professions, young people are not encouraged to become independent early on and support remains primarily organised by the nuclear family. Support is different again among affluent households. These exchanges are an element of their sociability. They assume «autonomous» households stability of their members and sufficient financial resources concerned to preserve their socio-economic position. The parents see this support as part of an educational project requiring their substantial budgetary input, in particular to set up their children as members of the family network. Family support widens more than it narrows social divides.