Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


INDIRECT Report Summary

Project ID: 617965
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Finland

Periodic Report Summary 2 - INDIRECT (Intergenerational Cumulative Disadvantage and Resource Compensation)

The main aims of the project are to develop the concept of resource compensation and study it empirically. Resource compensation can be seen to come into play when families lose resources and attempt to compensate for these losses either through the use of other resources, which have not been lost, or with the resources of other individuals such as new and extended family members or neighbours. On a theoretical level, resource compensation can be contrasted with processes of resource accumulation and multiplication. The major theoretical advancement of this concept is published in the edited volume Social Inequality Across the Generations: The Role of Compensation and Multiplication in Resource Accumulation (edited by Jani Erola and Elina Kilpi-Jakonen, published by Edward Elgar, out March 2017).
The edited volume also provides nine empirical chapters that analyse these processes within the immediate family, within the extended family, and within different societies. Overall, the chapters provide rather solid evidence that not only accumulation but also compensation as well as multiplication play important roles in intergenerational attainment. The empirical evidence for compensation is relatively weak for intrafamilial compensation. On the other hand, the chapters show consistent evidence of a surprisingly strong compensatory effect of extended family members. A tentative conclusion from these findings could be that intrafamilial processes are often accumulative by their nature, while compensation may appear within extra-familial social networks. In addition, the chapters provide important evidence of the role of welfare state institutions in the transmission of socioeconomic inequalities across the generations. The rather traditional point of view to these institutions has been that they have a role especially in compensating the lacking resources of those in need, but the chapters show that some policies may have a much smaller compensatory effect than is often expected.
In addition to the edited volume, the project has produced a number of peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and working papers that analyse various aspects of intergenerational attainment from the perspectives of life course events (such as parental death and divorce), period changes, and structural inequalities. For example, our paper on divorce found that the mother's new partner may compensate for the lost resources of the father after separation (Erola & Jalovaara 2016/2017), whereas our paper on parental death found that mother's own high socioeconomic resources can compensate for losses after father's death (Prix & Erola 2016/2017). Nonresident father involvement was found to be beneficial for children whose (resident) mothers had low levels of cultural resources (Tanskanen & Erola 2016/2017). In addition, strong cumulative disadvantages are found in the case of social receipt assistance, which are intergenerationally transmitted and reduce the likelihood of high school completion for these children (Kallio, Kauppinen & Erola 2016). For children with siblings, the dilution of parental resources may be compensated by greater family wealth, parental education and higher occupational status but not by higher cultural resources (Tanskanen, Erola & Kallio 2016). In contrast to evidence from some other countries, our research on early education in Finland found participation to be equally beneficial for children from different family backgrounds rather than being compensatory in nature (Karhula, Erola & Kilpi-Jakonen 2016/2017).

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