Population ageing tends to increase the share of financially dependent members in a given society, which is why it is often assumed to be a trigger for generational conflict. The data on this question paint an ambivalent picture. On the one hand, in many post-industrial economies, today’s younger birth cohorts are put at a disadvantage in the labour market and also in terms of public sector spending compared to older cohorts. On the other hand, there is a tendency of private transfers inside the family to flow downwards – from old to young. It appears that a potential generational conflict in the public domain (welfare state, labour market) is at least partly balanced in the family domain. To what extent this is the case will be analysed by using data from National Transfer Accounts, an internationally harmonized macro-level database of financial intergenerational transfers.
Naohiro Ogawa is a population economist who specializes in studying the effects of demographic change on economic growth and social security systems.
Gerhard Naegele has been a professor of gerontology at the Technical University of Dortmund, Institute of Gerontology since 1992.