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Intergenerational care in Sweden

A study of relationships, commitments, and practices of care in everyday family life

Practices of care between grandparents, adult children and grandchildren are the hub of intergenerational relationships. To care for an elderly parent, or for a grandchild, is an engagement that can be a necessity coming out of lack of other care providers, or it can be an engagement you voluntarily take upon yourself. It can feel like an obligation, and/or as something you do out of love for your kin, it can be experienced as demanding and time-consuming, or as rewarding and emotionally fulfilling.

This project will study intergenerational care in everyday life and throughout the life course in Sweden. Since the beginning of the 20th century, publicly funded elderly- and child care has made individuals less dependent on relatives for care support. However, quantitative studies indicate that intergenerational involvement has increased in recent decades, but there is no comprehensive research on configurations of intergenerational care. This proposed qualitative study will analyze practices and significance of care in three generations: grandparents, their adult children, and their grandchildren. Through the use of original research design and innovative methods (diary- and biographical interviews, visual methods) it will make possible the capturing of practices and understandings of care between generations and in the same family. It will be a novel contribution to research on families and care, and enable internationally comparable analysis on care in changing welfare states.

Despite the fact that the Swedish welfare state is an especially interesting case regarding care arrangements, there is no comprehensive research on configurations of intergenerational care.

Funded by the Swedish Research Council.