Family Solidarity

Leo de Bock

What are we researching? 

The overarching theme of our research is family solidarity. We study how the economy, culture or policy of a country, influence dependencies within families. And how these dependencies determine someone's life course. Questions that are central to our research are:  

  • How do adult children and parents support each other in the course of their lives?  
  • How happy are people who are not on the beaten track, such as never-married couples, childless people and people in the LGBTQ+ community?  
  • How do migrants experience their old age, and what role does the family play in this? 

Why are we doing this research? 

Contrary to dominant perspectives, we focus on family relationships throughout the life course and not just during the phases of parenting and education. This approach has brought new insights. For example, grandparenthood plays a role in retirement decisions. And the availability of help from grandparents is an important determinator in decisions about having children. By comparing migrants living in the Netherlands with their peers in the country of origin, we gain insight into the role of cultural background in family relationships. 

How are we doing this research?  

We use a wide range of research methods, such as existing international surveys with repeated measurements. We supplement this with in-depth interviews with specific groups, such as older adults and migrants. 

How does our research make an impact? 

Policymakers, politicians, and journalists use our research to better understand the consequences of, for example, ageing, multiculturalism, loneliness in late adulthood, grandparenthood, or the increasing complexity of family relationships. Our research results help policymakers to be aware of possible undesired dependencies within families - between young and old and between men and women.

International advisory organisations such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe for Europe also regularly seek our advice for their policy plans. For example, from 2015 to 2020, Prof. Dykstra was part of a group of seven scientists advising the European Commission on complex and urgent problems such as cybersecurity, microplastics, sustainable food systems and pandemic preparedness.

Finally, our expertise helps various national commissions, steering committees and platforms in which scientists and practitioners are represented.  ​​​​​​​

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