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It’s Not Just About Money

Intergenerational Transfers of Time and Money To and From Mature Age Australians

Families remain a primary source of support for individuals in all societies. In particular, the transfer of resources between generations within a family – whether in the form of financial assistance (such as gifts or loans) or practical support (such as babysitting or home maintenance) – can both provide assistance for an individual as well as strengthen family bonds. However, there is a surprising lack of knowledge in Australia about the nature and extent of such intergenerational transfers. 

This National Seniors Productive Ageing research report prepared by the University of Adelaide, entitled Intergenerational Transfers of Time and Money To and From the over 50s in Australia, examines intergenerational transfers in Australia using data from a telephone-based survey and semi-structured telephone interviews of people aged 50 years and over.

The report reveals that financial transfers within families predominantly occur from older to younger generations, while much less so in the other direction. Practical assistance, on the other hand, flows in both directions between younger and older generations. 

Of particular interest in this report is the detail provided about the precise nature and extent of these transfers, and how the transfers vary between demographic and socioeconomic groups within Australian society. A significant contribution of this research is the quantification of the value of these intergenerational transfers in Australia and the comparison with government expenditure on social services.

Indeed, the authors find that the attributable value of the interfamilial transfers of time and money amount to $50 billion annually. The report also identifies from the interviews that there is an expectation from respondents that the care of elderly parents will be supplemented by state services and support. 

The Australian population will continue to age in coming decades, and we can expect that the nature of intergenerational transfers will be impacted as the lifestyles of older Australians change, in terms of their employment, health and social lives. This important study has provided a foundation for understanding the impact of these changes on intergenerational transfers in the support of individuals in Australia.

Download the full report below.

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