This chapter focuses primarily on the transfer of resources that are explicitly conceptualized as exemplifying costs to the sending generation and benefits to the receiving generation. Intergenerational transfers need to be understood within the context of national and international political economies. Most Western governments have sought to reduce their commitment to their elderly populations and shift more responsibility to older individuals and their families. Under pressures of globalization and the expansion of free market trade, the role of government in providing for its most vulnerable citizens has weakened. In most modern, highly developed nations, economic transfers between generations are far more likely to flow downward from parents to children than in the reverse direction. Two related models of reciprocal exchange have been used to describe the interdependence of generations in less developed nations: the mutual aid model and the corporate-group model. The mutual aid model emphasizes the functional unity of the family and specifies that intergenerational transfers are isomorphic with the needs and resources of each generation. A corporate model of transfers emphasizes the power of the household head to strategically allocate resources where they will produce the best benefit.
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