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To depend on one's children or to depend on oneself: Savings for old-ageand children's impact on wealth
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
2013 (English)In: The History of the Family, ISSN 1081-602X, Vol. 18, no 4, 510-532 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

How did workers make provisions for old age before the introduction of old agepensions? What was the relative importance of dependence on children and saving forold age respectively? This article concerns the transition from a traditional familybasedsystem for economic support in old age to a more modern system. Regarding thenineteenth century, studies have shown that (a) savings generally were insufficient forfull retirement, and that (b) families were dependent on children’s incomes when thebreadwinner became older. Little attention has been paid to the question of how therelative importance of these two alternatives changed during the century. This questionis addressed here in a cross-sectional study of net wealth based on probate inventoriesfor three Swedish towns in the 1820s and the 1900s.The results show that in general the economic importance of children was largeramong the lower socio-economic strata. They also reveal that net costs for havingchildren increased between the investigated periods. This means that dependence onchildren became more expensive. Consequently, the economic importance of thisalternative decreased. This may have been a strong motive for the fertility transition.On the other hand, net wealth for workers increased at the end of the nineteenthcentury. Financial assets constituted a great part of the increase. Workers with childrenhad less financial savings than those without children, showing that there was a conflictbetween the traditional and the modern systems for support in old age. However, still atthe turn of the twentieth century funds were generally too small to allow an old workerto retire. These results indicate that neither the old, nor the modern systems, fullysatisfied the need for support in old age. This may explain why several WesternEuropean countries introduced old age pensions at the beginning of the twentiethcentury.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London, 2013. Vol. 18, no 4, 510-532 p.
Keyword [en]
provision for old age, savings, old age, workers, master artisans, children, financial assets, urban Sweden, cross-sectional study, probate inventories
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-209737DOI: 10.1080/1081602X.2013.836458ISI: 000326014200008OAI: diva2:659312
Family saving in a life cycle perspective
Available from: 2013-10-25 Created: 2013-10-25 Last updated: 2013-11-19Bibliographically approved

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Lilja, KristinaBäcklund, Dan
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