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Density of family networks - regional differences in the geographical proximity between generations

Research project This is a study of the regional differences in access to local family networks of adult children, siblings, parents and partners family and of the processes that generate these regional differences.

Regional differences in dependency ratios are often referred to as a potential problem in the aging society and are expected to result in an increasing pressure on the welfare sector in some regions more than others where the proportion of older people is particularly high in relation to those of working age. The need for formal care is potentially higher if the informal care is scarce, and in regions where few elderly have a local family network, pressure increases on support from public sector. The focus of this study is the regional differences in proximity between family members and the demographic processes that produce geographic variation in elderly people’s access to family networks with special attention to how this pattern is shaped by previous and contemporary migration flows. Geographical distance between family members occurs as a result of migration, while proximity is often a result of non-moves. One factor that inhibits migration is "insider advantages" that individuals develop in their community. Knowledge of the local labor market increases the chances of getting a job, and friends and family have been shown to be important channels for information and contacts with employers. The importance of social networks for access to work, however, differs depending on the local labor market characteristics but is also different significance for different groups. The project aims to identify regional differences in the family network configuration, in terms of proximity in housing and on the workplace, and to analyze the underlying processes that create these patterns. The study is based on a quantitative analysis of register data and utilizes the unique opportunity that is available in the Swedish population registers to link family networks, place of residence and workplace.

Head of project

Emma Lundholm
Associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2012-01-01 2017-12-31


FAS, 2012-2014: SEK 1,890,000

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Faculty of Social Sciences, Transportation Research Unit

Research subject

Human geography