Intergenerational Solidarity Revisited: Migrant Families in the Dilemma of Providing Family or Elderly Care in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic and its Challenges
The assumption that people live in one place with their lives guided by a singular set of national and cultural norms no longer holds true. The same applies for migrating due to various reasons with the aim of finding a better place to live. Instead, contemporary transnational migrants are accustomed to operating in several contexts of employment, leisure and political interests that extend beyond national borders. Yet, state borders still cut through the very core of the family life, forcing migrants to take difficult decisions about leaving, separation or arranging care of children and elderly, but also creating a certain degree of choice between two or more socio-political social and cultural contexts. Events of recent years have shaken established beliefs about the potential of transnational care networks. As the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, what once seemed to be enduring rules can be suspended for long periods of time.
For Poland, one of the countries affected by intense mobility to and from the country, discussions about the effects of migration on care networks are of paramount importance. As a direct consequence of mobility, the expectations and obligations that migrants (especially women) have towards the family they leave behind may change, shift or even remain unrestricted in spite of living abroad. Yet, establishing family care strategies for elderly family members in ageing societies is also based on the assumption of availability of migrant labour. Drawing on two sets of data, this article asks how intergenerational obligations were negotiated during the Covid-19 pandemic and whether the associated long-term restrictions on crossing national borders caused changes in patterns of care provision.
* This article belongs to a special issue on “Demographic Developments in Eastern and Western Europe Before and After the Transformation of Socialist Countries”.
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