INTERGENERATIONAL SOLIDARITY - PORTUGAL
IG Solidarity can be analyzed through many different scopes. We are going to examine closely the link between “the golden generation” and youth, as this is the facet that affects us the most.
In order to approach this issue properly is necessary to make a little history as introduction.
Portuguese society was until 1960’s a typically rural society with all its implications: very conservative social relationships, great man power over women, great parental power over children, very slow changes in families’ environment, unreceptive population to new ideas, very big families, etc. In this context of a very rural society, the family belongings were always preserved as the most precious possession. How was it made?
The patriarch (the oldest man or woman in the family) managed their wealth/properties so they could live from until his death. One of his children would take his place (even when married). When the patriarch would get old, was this heir who guaranteed the maintenance of the previous generation and all the family goods would belong to him.
Therefore, IG solidarity was naturally assumed. The three generations that formed the core of the family (children, parents, and grandparents) lived in a common area, passing on their culture and values peacefully. In addition, they all had the same means so ones would depend on the others. The state would make all its possible to avoid this situation to change.
During the 60’s and 70’s things started to change. The Africa War was one of the first periods of deep social changes. Migration through Europe modified the “stable” situation. In particular, the democratic changes which took place in 1974 brought a transformation of the Rural State. However, the state based his action on very weak structures, and the consequences were tremendous. For all these reasons, we can say without a doubt that the Portuguese generation born after the II World War had to confront a dilemma based in three axes:
This generation’s parents didn’t get the opportunity of creating solid structures for a safer future, within the framework of a powerless welfare state.
In spite of the war, the migration and several national and international crisis, this generation got until the end of their careers. In that time, they reached to create some social structures on which they could lean on. These social structures were not fully developed though.
The children issued from this generation, grew up in the hustle and bustle installed in the 1980’s. Now they have to start their career in a milieu of uncertainty and national instability, where the welfare state has very limited resources.
Without being too pessimist, we could say that we are a generation "committed" with the other two. In one hand with the seniors, because they don't have proper conditions to live comfortably their old age. In the other hand with the youngsters with little hope for the future.
Once we are aware of this situation, the social sector or the third sector is becoming stronger.
A lot of private institutions are being created. These institutions support the seniors and the youngsters simultaneously. The intention is that the cultural and life experiences are transmitted to the young naturally. While young people relate to the elderly to provide the vitality they need. The results have been very positive and these activities are being implemented throughout the country. The state supports these institutions, but as resources are scarce, the progresses are made with great difficulty.
In politics is believed that IG Solidarity is one of the possible solutions for the present and future problems of our society. But the fact is that each of our leaders paints a different view of reality and they haven’t yet strike a balance over the role the society reserves to the elderly. We can’t be just a burden for the future generations, as we keep the culture, the wisdom and the life experience that the young need so much.
Cândido Vintém – ANAC – Portugal