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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1995  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/06/1995   
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Contents >> Family >> Family Functioning: Family support

Family Functioning: Family support

In 1992, women spent nearly twice as much time as men interacting with their family. Women aged 30-34 years spent the most time interacting with their family.

People's wellbeing is greatly influenced by the emotional, physical and financial support that they get from others. For many people, the most significant source of support is their family. But other sources, such as government and private welfare agencies and friendship networks, can be important.


In 1992 women spent an average of 3 hours and 13 minutes interacting with relatives each day, compared to 1 hour and 43 minutes spent by men. Men and women in the 30-34 years age group spent more time interacting with relatives than any other adult age group. This is the age range at which people are most likely to be married and have young children.


Correspondingly, young adults (15-24 year olds) and the elderly (people aged 65 years and over) spent the least amount of time interacting with relatives. Men under 25 or over 69, and women over 74 spent less than one hour per day. These are the ages when people are most likely to live alone or with non-family members.

AVERAGE TIME PER DAY SPENT INTERACTING WITH RELATIVES, 1992



Source: Time Use Survey


Support

Support
is any help given by a person to a relative. Because of the complexities of people's lives, it is impossible to measure all the supportive elements of a relationship. However, the ABS produces data on time spent interacting with relatives, income support, help with home or land purchasing, domestic support, and child care. Relatives may, or may not, be part of the same household.

Interacting with relatives
includes child care activities, transport of children, socialising, conversing (including telephone conversations with relatives), and all activities outside the home with relatives.

Income support
is financial assistance in excess of $200 value provided to or received from relatives outside the household in the previous 12 months. Help with home or land purchasing is a loan or gift of money or other assets for housing received by a person aged 15-59 from a relative in the previous ten years. Domestic support is the provision or receipt, in the previous six months, of personal care or home help due to a long-term illness, disability or old age. Data were only collected on the main provider or recipient of support. Domestic assistance may be received from government or other non-family members while other forms of support listed above are restricted to family members only.

Child care
is the provision of direct assistance to a child. If it is not provided by a resident parent, it is classified as formal (regulated care away from the child's home, such as pre-school or family day care), or informal (unregulated care provided by relatives, friends or baby sitters).



Parents providing child care

Parents give significant amounts of support to their children, especially when the children are young. The nature of this support is very broad and includes activities such as washing, cooking, cleaning and providing an income. These forms of support are not included in child care activities.


On average, 98% of mothers in couples with children under 2 years provided child care on any given day, compared to 77% of their husbands. By the time the youngest child was aged 10-14, 57% of mothers provided child care on a given day compared to 34% of fathers. This reflects the division of domestic responsibilities between mothers and fathers (see
Australian Social Trends 1994, Unpaid household work).

Mothers whose youngest child was under 2 years old spent an average of 14 hours a day undertaking child care activities. Fathers spent four and a half hours. Some of these families also had children aged over 2 and the figures represent the total amount of time parents spent providing child care to all their children, not just the youngest.


The amount of time spent on child care declined as the age of the youngest children increased, and the nature of the child care changed. Mothers with children under 2 years spent 4 hours (29% of their total child care time) giving physical care to their children, while mothers with children aged 5-9 spent 1 hour (12% of their caring time) on physical care.


The amount of time parents spent playing with, reading to or talking to their children also decreased as the children got older. However, playing with, reading or talking to their children became a greater proportion of the total time parents spent on child care. It increased from 17% of time spent on child care by parents with children under 2 years old to 38% for parents whose youngest child was aged 10-14.


Mothers of children under 2 years spent 6 hours more on child care than mothers of children aged 5-9. However for fathers the difference was only 45 minutes. The amount of time fathers spent in physical care of their children fell rapidly as the child got older. However the time fathers spent on most other forms of child care did not change significantly until the youngest child was aged 10-14.


Mothers of children under 15 spent 55% of all their child care time passively minding their children and fathers spent 59%. Passive minding of children represents a high proportion of all child care because it is often done at the same time as other activities, such as watching TV, cleaning, ironing or cooking.


7% of mothers and 4% of fathers of children aged under 2 years spent some time nursing a sick or disabled child on a given day. On these days mothers spent an average of 72 minutes nursing a sick child, while fathers averaged 58 minutes. The total time spent on child care on these days would be significantly higher if all child care activities were included.

AVERAGE TIME(a) PER DAY SPENT ON CHILD CARE ACTIVITIES(b) BY PARENTS IN COUPLE FAMILIES, 1992

Fathers - age of youngest child (years)
Mothers - age of youngest child (years)


0-1
2-4
5-9
10-14
0-1
2-4
5-9
10-14
Child care activities
hours
hours
hours
hours
hours
hours
hours
hours

Physical care
0:54
0:29
0:14
0:03
3:59
1:45
0:53
0:12
Nursing of sick or disabled child
0:04
0:02
0:00
0:01
0:07
0:10
0:04
0:01
Teaching, helping, reprimanding child
0:01
0:03
0:03
0:02
0:06
0:10
0:15
0:05
Playing with, reading to, talking to child
0:56
1:01
0:57
0:24
2:16
2:02
1:41
0:45
Passive minding of child
2:41
2:23
2:34
0:29
7:25
5:27
4:29
1:02
Total child care activities
4:35
3:58
3:49
0:58
13:54
9:34
7:22
2:06
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
Parents providing child care on any given day
76.8
76.0
68.6
33.8
97.6
94.3
89.1
56.9


(a) In hours and minutes.
(b) Includes child care for all children, not just the youngest, regardless of whether other activities were also undertaken at the same time.


Source: Time Use Survey



Parents supporting older children who live at home

Parents who have children living with them can provide many forms of support, including the provision of free rent or board. Even children who pay rent or board to their parents tend to pay well below market prices. These forms of support do not necessarily indicate a burden on the parents, but they do indicate, in most cases, the receipt of support by the children.


In 1991, 40% of 20-24 year olds lived with their parents compared to 34% in 1981. This indicates that children were receiving these and other forms of support from their parents for longer than they had a decade earlier. However, as young adults got older, they were less likely to live with their parents. In 1991, 13% of 25-29 year olds and 5% of 30-34 year olds lived with their parents (see
Australian Social Trends 1994, Living with parents).

Among children who lived with their parents, the older they were the less likely they were to pay no rent or board. In 1992, 45% of 20-24 year olds living at home paid no rent or board compared to 33% of 25-34 year olds. 86% of 20-24 year old full-time students living with their parents paid no rent or board, reflecting their greater financial dependence on their parents. Among 20-24 year olds living with their parents, women were more likely to live rent-free than men. The reverse was true of 25-34 year olds. About 30% of children who lived with their parents and had incomes over $25,000 a year paid no rent or board.

PROPORTION OF PEOPLE LIVING WITH PARENTS WHO PAID NO RENT OR BOARD, 1992

20-24 years
25-34 years
Selected characteristics
%
%

Male
42.1
34.8
Female
48.1
28.3
Employed
41.0
31.6
Unemployed
48.4
35.1
Full-time student
85.7
43.6*
Part-time student
43.9
36.8
Income over $25,000
34.2
29.5
Total
44.6
32.5
'000
'000
Total living with parents
537.1
248.5


Source: Survey of Families in Australia


Parents supporting children who have left home

In 1992, 679,000 people who were no longer living with their parents had received some form of income support from their parents in the previous 12 months. The most common types of income support were a gift of cash (353,000), a household item (214,000), or food or clothing (134,000). Most of these recipients were aged in their 20s or early 30s.


45% of income support from parents to children was identified as coming from both parents acting together. In the remaining cases, the child identified only one parent as the provider but this does not necessarily mean that the other parent had no involvement in the decision. It does indicate the child's perceptions of the source of the support. Parents were most likely to be identified together as providers of regular financial assistance


When one parent was identified as the sole provider of income support, it was more likely to be the mother, especially in providing more than $200 as a cash gift, a household item, or food or clothing. Children were more likely to identify their father than their mother as providers of motor vehicles or regular financial assistance.


446,000 people who were no longer living with their parents received some help with home or land purchasing from their parents in the ten years to 1992. The most common forms of help were a loan of money (286,000), or a gift of money (147,000).


About 40% of help with home or land purchasing to children came from both parents acting together. However, children who received a gift of land, home or home improvements identified their father as the sole provider in 48% of cases. Mothers and fathers were about equally likely to be identified as providers of loans of money for housing.

SUPPORT RECEIVED BY PEOPLE NOT LIVING WITH THEIR PARENTS, 1992

Provider of support as reported

Mother
Father
Both parents
Total
Total
Selected characteristic
%
%
%
%
'000

Income support(a)
      Cash gift of over $200
36.2
23.8
40.0
100.0
353.4
      Gift of household item
26.5
13.7
59.7
100.0
213.6
      Gift of motor vehicle
24.2
32.7
43.1
100.0
32.8
      Regular financial assistance
13.9
22.1
64.0
100.0
75.2
      Gift of over $200 worth of food or clothing
33.6
9.3
57.1
100.0
134.1
      Gift of shares, stocks or money in trust
29.2
27.3
43.5
100.0
13.9
      Bills, rent or loan repayment
24.5
25.3
50.1
100.0
112.5
      Total
33.9
21.5
44.6
100.0
679.2
Help with home or land purchasing(b)
      Loan of money for housing
27.8
30.8
41.4
100.0
286.0
      Gift of money for housing
25.8
33.9
40.3
100.0
147.4
      Gift of land, home or home improvement
23.6
48.0
28.4
100.0
30.3
      Total
27.4
32.6
40.1
100.0
445.7


(a) People who received income support from their parents in the previous 12 months.
(b) People who received help with home or land purchasing from their parents in the previous ten years.


Source: Survey of Families in Australia



Support for older people

In 1992, 24% (434,000) of people aged 65 or more had received personal care or home help in the previous six months. About half of these people (211,000) received their main assistance from relatives while most of the rest received their main assistance from government or voluntary organisations.


Children were the main providers of help for 49% of aged people who received care from their relatives. Daughters provided significantly more assistance than sons and also provided a wider range of assistance. Daughters provided more meals, housework, personal care and general nursing than sons. Sons provided more home repairs and maintenance than daughters. This is consistent with the patterns observed in unpaid household work generally.


People aged 75 and over are more likely to receive care from their children than people aged 65-74. This is because they are more likely to need care, and they are less likely to have a spouse to care for them. 38% of people aged 65-74 who received domestic assistance from relatives received it from their children compared to 59% of people aged 75 and over.


37,000 people aged 65-74 received their main source of domestic assistance from their children. The numbers of sons (16,000) and daughters (17,000) providing this assistance were similar. However, there were more than twice as many people aged 75 and over who received their main source of domestic assistance from their daughters (42,000) as from their sons (20,000). This is because older people need more nursing and personal care which daughters usually provide.


Spouses tend to provide a wider range of support than other relatives. 72,000 people identified their spouse as the main provider of at least one form of domestic assistance. On average, these spouses were identified as the main provider of 3 of the 5 types of domestic assistance.

PEOPLE AGED 65 YEARS OR MORE WHO RECEIVED MAIN DOMESTIC ASSISTANCE FROM RELATIVES, 1992

Son
Daughter
Total children(a)
Spouse
Other family
Total
Total
Domestic assistance
%
%
%
%
%
%
'000

Meals
9.1
29.4
42.5
45.8
11.7
100.0
130.7
Housework
10.2
32.0
47.0
39.7
13.3
100.0
159.0
Repairs/maintenance
31.8
19.7
56.0
28.8
15.3
100.0
99.8
Personal care
9.3
26.5
37.1
51.2
11.7
100.0
77.7
Nursing care
12.8
25.3
38.5
48.5
13.1
100.0
57.8
All domestic assistance(b)
17.3
28.0
49.4
34.2
16.4
100.0
211.2


(a) Includes cases where the main source of domestic assistance is provided by more than one child.
(b) Since people may receive more than one type of domestic assistance, components may not add, or average, to totals.


Source: Survey of Families in Australia



Grandparents as child carers

In 1992 there were 1.8 million families with children under 12 years. In 35% of these, grandparents were the main providers of informal child care. Grandparents were more likely to be providers of informal care for younger children than for older children. For 46% of families with the youngest child aged under 2 years grandparents provided the main source of informal care compared to 26% of families with children aged 5-11. Reasons for this difference include a lesser need for child care once a child starts school and the presence of older siblings who can act as baby sitters.


Maternal grandparents were more likely than paternal grandparents to be the main providers of informal child care, 27% compared to 9%. Grandmothers were also more likely than grandfathers, or both grandparents, to be the main provider of child care.

MAIN PROVIDERS(a) OF INFORMAL CHILD CARE, 1992

Age of youngest child (years)

0-1
2-4
5-11
Total
%
%
%
%

No informal care
30.1
28.0
40.2
33.9
Maternal grandparents
34.5
29.2
19.8
26.7
      Grandmother
29.3
23.9
14.0
21.2
      Grandfather
1.0
0.5
1.2
1.0
      Grandparents
4.1
4.9
4.5
4.5
Paternal grandparents
11.4
9.7
6.3
8.7
      Grandmother
9.1
7.5
4.9
6.9
      Grandfather
0.2
0.8
0.4
0.4
      Grandparents
2.2
1.4
1.0
1.4
Other relatives
10.3
11.0
17.1
13.4
Other person
13.7
22.0
16.6
17.2
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
'000
'000
'000
'000
Total families
517.5
471.3
763.9
1,752.6


(a) The main provider of child care is the individual, other than a resident parent, who provides the most child care for the family, not necessarily to the youngest child.

Source: Survey of Families in Australia



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