Intergenerational solidarity in care: A case study in Serbia

  • Mirjana Bobić Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Belgrade (Serbia)
  • Milica Vesković Anđelković Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Belgrade (Serbia)
Keywords: intergenerational solidarity, care, women, children, elderly parents


This paper discusses intergenerational solidarity in care from the perspective of women, focusing on mothers as the main providers. It has been carried out in the context of very low fertility, negative population change, and advanced ageing in Serbia, amid conditions of strong familism. Two types of care were analysed: care of children and of elderly parents. Qualitative research was carried out in two towns and their outskirts: Belgrade and Kraljevo. The main method was a case study based on interviews and observation. The first aim was to shed light on the informal support mothers/parents receive around children: who helps them, what help they receive, and why they receive help. The results supported the authors’ initial expectations that mothers/parents rely heavily on grandparents, primarily grandmothers. The help grandparents provide is reported to be daily, extensive, and exhaustive. Mothers, however, deem that it contributes to happy and healthy ageing.

Although caring for elderly people is still not widespread among respondents, they nevertheless presented their views on the issue. Again, in line with initial assumptions, care of elderly people was shown to be an indispensable part of family life. The empirical results reflect that the main explanation stems from strong solidarity based on kinship, which thus moulds both attitudes and behaviour. Elderly parents will be taken care of by their children, and this is considered natural, self-understandable, and an expression of vast gratitude. Putting elderly people into institutional care (nursing homes) is a rare choice that is only made when they cannot live on their own and take care of themselves, or if there are many elderly kin who need support.


Download data is not yet available.


Aronson, J., & Neysmith, S. M. (1997). The retreat of the state and long-term care provision: implications for frail elderly people, unpaid family carers and paid home care workers. Studies in Political Economy, 53(1), 37-66.

Avramov, D., & Maskova, M. (2004). Active ageing in Europe. Population Studies 40. Brussels: Council of Europe Publishing.

Babović, M. (2020). Ko plaća cenu neplaćenog kućnog rada i kako se prema tom pitanju odnose evropska i domaća levica? Antropologija, 20(1-2), 133-152.

Bartha, A., & Zentai, V. (2020). Long-term care and gender equality: fuzzy-set ideal types of care regimes in Europe. Social Inclusion, 8(4), 92–102.

Becker, O. A., & Steinbach, A. (2012). Relations between grandparents and grandchildren in the context of the family system. Comparative Population Studies, 37(3-4), 543-566.

Bettio, F., & Plantenga, J. (2004). Comparing care regimes in Europe. Feminist Economics, 10(1), 85-113.

Blagojević, M. (1997). Roditeljstvo i fertilitet. Srbija devedesetih. Beograd: Institut za siociološka istraživanja Filozofskog fakulteta.

Blagojević Hjuson, M. (2014). Transformation of parenthood: The semiperipheral perspective. Sociologija, 56(4): 383-402.

Bobić, M. (2019). Sociodemographic profile of homeless in Serbia. Sociološki pregled, 53(4), 1468-1476.

Bobić, M., & Dragišić Labaš, S. (2020). O udovicama ili o jednoj društvenoj nepravdi. Beograd: Filozofski fakultet Univerziteta u Beogradu i Službeni glasnik.

Bobić, M., & Vesković Anđelković, M. (2018). Socio-psychological cost of childbearing in Serbia and political response. Zbornik Matice srpske za društvene nauke, 167, 345-355.

Bouget, D., Spasova, S., & Vanhercke, B. (2016). Work-life balance measures for persons of working age with dependent relatives in Europe. A study of national policies. Brussels: European Commission.

Castagnaro, C., & Cagiano de Azevedo, R. (2013). Ageing and counter ageing in the Italian censuses. Rivista Italiana di Economia Demografia e Statistica, 67(2), 21-31.

Di Gessa, G., Zaninotto, P., & Glaser, K. (2020). Looking after grandchildren: gender differences in “when”, “what” and “why”: Evidence from the English longitudinal study of ageing, 43(53), 1545-1562.

Gnjatović Stojilković, J. (2018). Teorijsko – metodološka preispitivanja fenomena demografskog starenja u Srbiji (Doctoral dissertation). Beograd: Geografski fakultet Univerziteta u Beogradu.

Hughson, M. (2015). Mnogo odgovornosti, premalo podrške: Sami roditelji na Zapadnom Balkanu. Beograd: Institut za kriminiloška i sociološka istraživanja.

Ignjatović, S. (2009). Recent problems in research on transition to adulthood: country focus Serbia. Stanovništvo, 47(1), 7-22.

Lukić, V., & Stojilković Gnjatović, J. (2019). Ageing in Serbia: perceptions and experiences of nursing home residents. Sociološki pregled, 53(3), 1271-1292.

Luppi, F., Arpino, B., & Rosina, A. (2020). The impact of COVID-19 on fertility plans in Italy, Germany, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Demographic Research 43(47), 1399–1412.

Matković, G. (2012). Long-term care of the elderly – current status, policies and dilemmas. Stanovništvo, 50(1), 1-18.

Matković, G. (2017). Država blagostanja u zemljama Zapadnog Balkana. Izazovi i opcije. Beograd: Centar za socijalnu politiku. Retrieved from

Matković, G. (2019). The welfare state in Western Balkan Countries: challenges and options. Stanovništvo, 57(1): 27-52.

Milić, A. (2004). Transformacija porodice i domaćinstva – zastoj i strategija preživljavanja. In A. Milić (Ed.), Društvena transformacija i strategije društvenih grupa: svakodnevica Srbije na početku trećeg milenijuma (pp. 317-347). Beograd: Institut za sociološka istraživanja Filozofskog fakulteta.

Milić, A., Tomanović, S., Ljubičić, M., Sekulić, N., Bobić, M., Miletić-Stepanović, V., & Stanojević, D. (2010). Vreme porodica. Sociološka studija o porodičnoj transformaciji u savremenoj Srbiji. Beograd: Institut za sociološka istraživanja Filozofskog fakulteta i Čigoja štampa.

Mirić, N. (2018). Increase in the completed cohort fertility of high-educated women - a focus in the creation of population policy in Serbia. Zbornik Matice srpske za društvene nauke, 167, 409-419.

Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia (2019a). Demographic yearbook 2018. Belgrade: Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia. Retrieved from

Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia (2019b). Statistical pocketbook of the Republic of Serbia 2019. Belgrade: Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, Belgrade. Retrieved from

Rašević, M. (2010). On ageing and old age in Serbia. Zbornik Matice Srpske za društvene nauke, 131, 199-209.

Schoenmackers, R., & Kotowska, I. (2005). Population Ageing and its Challenges to Social Policy, Population Studies, 50. Brussels: Council of Europe Publishing.

Stanojević, D. (2018). Novo očinstvo u Srbiji. Sociološka studija o praksama i identitetima očeva. Beograd: Filozofski fakultet, Univerzitet u Beogradu.

Tomanović, S. (2017). Roditeljstvo između familizma i individualizacije: primer Srbije. In S. Ignjatović & A. Bošković (Eds.), Individualizam (pp. 162-182). Beograd: Institut društvenih nauka. Retrieved from

Tomanović, S., Ljubičić, M., & Stanojević, D. (2014). Jednoroditeljske porodice u Srbiji. Beograd: Institut za sociološka istraživanja, Filozofski fakultet, Univerzitet u Beogradu. Retrieved from

Tomanović, S., Stanojević, D., & Ljubičić, M. (2016). Postajanje roditeljem u Srbiji. Sociološko istraživanje tranzicije u roditeljstvo. Beograd: Institut za sociološka istraživanja, Filozofski fakultet, Univerzitet u Beogradu. Retrieved from

Walther, A. (2006). Regimes of Youth Transitions. Choice, flexibility and security in young people’s experiences across different European contexts. Youth, 14(2), 119-139.

How to Cite
Bobić, M., & Vesković Anđelković, M. (2020). Intergenerational solidarity in care: A case study in Serbia. Stanovništvo, 58(2), 1-22.