On the project

PearlZW_400Pearl Dykstra was appointed chair of Empirical Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2009. Previously, she had a chair in Kinship Demography at Utrecht University and was a senior scientist at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) in The Hague. She is an internationally regarded specialist on intergenerational solidarity, aging societies, family change, aging and the life course, and loneliness. Large scale projects for which she has been awarded grants include the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (NKPS) and the EU 7th framework program MULTILINKS. She is consortium member of the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP), which was recently placed on the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research National Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Facilities. She is an elected member of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW, 2004) and Vice-President of the KNAW as of 2011, elected Member of the Dutch Social Sciences Council (SWR, 2006), and elected fellow of the Gerontological Society of America (2010). In 2012 she received the prestigious ERC Advanced Grant for the research project “Families in context”, which focuses on the ways in which policy, economic, and cultural contexts structure intergenerational and gendered dependencies in families.

Kasia KarpinskaKasia Karpinska is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Public Administration and Sociology at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Kasia earned her PhD degree from Utrecht University School of Economics (USE) in 2013. In her dissertation she studied factors that may affect manager’s decisions to hire, retain and train older workers and the role of manager’s attitudes on those decisions. To this goal she designed several vignettes experiments. Kasia is currently involved in the ERC-funded ‘Families in Context’ project and is coordinating the data collection among Polish migrants in the Netherlands.


Nederland, Den Haag, 19 januari 2017. Marja Appelman, Nederlandse KansspelAutoriteit. foto: Gerhard van Roon

Alzbeta Bártová (postdoc) is involved in the ERC funded project ‘Families in Context’ where she examines the relationship between private and public support in the context of intergenerational solidarity.

Alzbeta received a PhD in Social Policy from the University of Edinburgh. In her research, she investigated the association between maternity and parental leave entitlements and fertility behaviour in 27 European countries. Her research interests lie in the area of comparative family policy, gender equality, social demography and life-course research.


tomTom Emery is a Post-Doctoral researcher in the Department of Public Administration and Sociology of Erasmus University Rotterdam. He is also the Manager of the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP) at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute in The Hague. The GGP is a comparative, longitudinal survey which is fielded in 19 countries and provides data on family dynamics and demographic change to over 4,000 researchers worldwide. Tom gained a PhD in Social Policy from the University of Edinburgh in 2014 and his thesis examined the interaction between financial support between elderly parents and their adult children in a number of European countries. His research also covers questions of comparative survey methodology and policy measurements in multilevel contexts.

majazwMaja Djundeva is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Public Administration and Sociology of Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Maja earned her Ph.D degree from the Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS) at the Department of Sociology at the University of Groningen in 2016. In her dissertation she studied how marital histories, the timing of having children, and the relationships with adult children are related to the mental and physical health of older people across European countries. She continues to be interested in the consequences of fertility and partnership over the life course for late-life health. Next to participating in Families in Context, Maja is a part of the research project Life Course and Family Dynamics in a Comparative Perspective carried out by an international research consortium and co-funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). In both projects, she examines the risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities that European and Chinese older citizens face over their life course and how these contribute to differences in health.

WouterWouter Quite is a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam. This part of the project addresses cross national differences in support behavior and the motives for family members to provide support. A cross-national comparative perspective is applied to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the influence of national policies, and the economic and cultural context on family support. The aim of this project is to test different explanatory models in different national and regional contexts to provide crucial insights into the applicability of altruism, exchange, and norms as explanations for family solidarity. In doing so, the relative importance of different macro level indicators in explaining cross-national differences in family support is addressed. This study aims to answer questions such as (a) to what extent are norms formed by national policies, and (b) is a reciprocal exchange relation a more dominant predictor of family support in countries where welfare arrangements are rudimentary.

BrettBrett Ory is a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her work focuses on the practical and emotional care men provide for their families. It is often recognized that fathers and sons are crucial to healthy family functioning and, as a result, many European governments have designed policies intended to encourage men’s involvement with their families. In particular, many countries are implementing paternity leave policies designed to both encourage father involvement in the family and support women’s return to the labour market after childbirth. Much is still unknown about what makes one father different from another, or how men’s caring behaviour is influenced by the national context. One research question this project will address is how national policies and norms influence the amount of time men spend with their minor children. Other potential avenues of research are the determinants of adult sons’ care for their ageing parents, and the link between being a caring father and being a caring son. This project aims to shed light on differences in men’s family behaviour across Europe and how national policies and family structure influence men’s caring responsibilities.

NinaNina Conkova is a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Under the supervision of prof. Pearl Dykstra and dr. Tineke Fokkema, Nina is researching the circumstances under which non-kin ties serve as a source of support in Europe. Compared to the other sources of support – kin and formal organisations – non-kin ties have been largely neglected in the European research on support. It can be argued that this knowledge gap is a by-product of the strongly held presumption that kin is the central, most appropriate resource on which people rely for assistance. Whilst recognising that family members do in fact comprise the majority of people providing care and support, we also argue that in an era of changing social and demographic contexts, the relative role of non-kin as a source of support might have gained importance. We test this premise by employing a mixed methods approach and devoting special attention to the post-communist countries.

xxJing Zhang is a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Administration and Sociology, and has received a Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) fellowship. Jing has two Master degrees, one from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Social Policy Analysis), and one from Nanjing University (Social Work). Jing’s research is on the role of grandparenting and child well-being in mainland China.






Renske Keizer is associated professor in family sociology at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. In addition, she is endowed professor in Child Development at the University of Amsterdam. Keizer’s primary research interests are fatherhood and parenthood in an internationally comparative perspective, and the dynamics of partner relationships. Her research straddles sociology, demography, developmental psychology and pedagogy. Central to her work is the application of the theory-based life course approach to the behaviour and well-being of individuals, and (extended) families. Keizer is member of the acclaimed international Nonmarital Childbearing Network. She has a demonstrated track record of significant contributions to multiple fields and to policy debates, through several highly-cited publications in top-tier journals, such as Journal of Marriage and Family, Journal of Family Psychology, Population and Development Review, European Sociological Review, and European Journal of Population. She has received several prestigious grants, amongst which a NWO VENI award. In 2016, she was selected as one of the 25 most talented young scholars of all Dutch and Flemish universities.


casperCaspar van Lissa is a post-doctoral researcher in the department of Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, researching fathers’ role in their children’s socio-emotional development under prof. Renske Keizer. He is particularly interested in disentangling the role of the context from unique contributions of mothers and fathers within families, person-centered approaches (i.e., why some children struggle whilst others flourish), and innovating developmental research using insights from data science. His research has been published in journals like Developmental Psychology, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, and Journal of Adolescence. His PhD focused on the role of adolescents’ developing empathy in conflict resolution with parents, and he is affiliated with the Oxford Morals Project.


Aafke_KomterZWProfessor Aafke Komter is currently affiliated with the Department of Sociology of the Erasmus University Rotterdam as a guest-researcher. From 2000-2012 she has been the Head of the Department of Social Science at University College, Utrecht, the Honor’s College of Utrecht University, where she was occupying the chair ‘Comparative Studies of Social Solidarity’. In 1986 she was an Associate Member of Balliol College, Oxford. During 1991-92 she was a Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Social Science, University of Amsterdam. She wrote her PhD-thesis on Gender and Power Relationships (1985). Her recent research is focused on family solidarity. She was a member of the research team involved in the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (NKPS), a large scale multi-actor and multi-method panel study into family solidarity (2002-2011). Between 2008 and 2010 she has been involved in an EU-funded project (FP-7), Multilinks: ‘How demographic changes shape intergenerational solidarity, well-being, and social integration: A multilinks framework’ . Aafke Komter has published numerous books and articles on informal gift giving, reciprocity and (family) solidarity. Since 2011 she is a member of the “Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities” (Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen).


tinekeTineke Fokkema is a senior researcher at the Sociology Department of Erasmus University in Rotterdam and at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI-KNAW) in The Hague. Within the Families in Context project, Tineke focuses on the social implication of growing old in a migration context.

Nowadays people are more mobile and travel greater distances than ever before. This mobility is not restricted to the younger generations and takes different forms, such as later-life migration to join adult migrant children abroad, traveling back and forth between the country of destination and origin, old-age return migration, and international retirement migration in search for attractive climate and leisure amenities. There exists a growing body of literature demonstrating that ties between migrants and those who stayed behind do not entirely fade away because of these movements; despite geographical distance a transnational social space usually emerges, where various types of interaction and support exchange take place with family members and significant others. Moreover, apart from family reunification and formation, migrants establish social relations in their new society. More research is nevertheless needed in order to examine the ways in which social relationships and support exchange in a migration context differ from common practices at a distance within national borders, as well as to determine which micro factors (e.g. strength of ethnic attachment, duration of stay in the host country) and macro factors (e.g. welfare and migration policies) attribute to these differences. In addition, there are only a few studies that address the impact of migration on migrants’ social wellbeing (e.g. feeling of loneliness) and how they cope with social deficits, if any. The aim of this project is to bring more insights into these complex but highly relevant issues. It draws on both survey data and in-depth interviews among older migrants with different nationalities and migration histories, who live in different countries and are at various stages in their life course.