Family Size, Household Wealth, & the Generosity of Family Policy in 20th Century Europe

Zachary Van Winkle, University of Oxford
Christiaan W. S. Monden , University of Oxford

As baby boomers enter retirement, an increasing portion of the population in Europe will rely on wealth as a source of financial security. This study addresses two research questions: what is the association between family size, i.e. the number of children, and wealth for adults who are preparing for or have entered retirement and does the generosity of family policy, i.e. the extent that countries compensate families for the costs of children, moderate that association? We use data from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to estimate the relationship between family size and the total household net worth of men and women between ages 50-65, born 1939-1963 from 14 European countries. In addition, we draw rich family policy dataset to estimate whether the generosity of family policy moderates the association between family size and wealth. We use logistic regression modelling to investigate the probability of wealth ownership and unconditional quantile regression modelling analyse family size differences across the wealth distribution among wealth owners. We find no relationship between family size and the probability to own wealth among individuals with one to three children, but men and women with four or more children have a substantially lower probability to own wealth. For those with wealth, the number of children is generally associated with less wealth, especially at the lower end of the distribution. We provide evidence that the generosity of family policy can ameliorate the negative association between larger family sizes and the probability of wealth ownership.

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 Presented in Session 49. Flash Session Policy and Practice