family members while remaining in the labor force will pose challenges to both women and men in most societies (Budlender, 2008; Das et al., 2010; Sabates-Wheeler and Roelen, 2011). The changing older dependency ratios for world regions for 2000, 2020, and 2040 suggest that in Asia (excluding the Near East), the number of people aged 65 and older for every 100 people 20-64 will grow from 11 to 28 in this time period (United Nations, 2008). In this regard, India is no exception. Thus, it is critical that data regarding the family and network dynamics of older people in India be understood so that both formal and informal sectors can develop and plan effectively to maintain health, well-being, and productivity in the growing population of older adults and their families.
As in many countries, the family is a cherished institution in India and often provides important nonformal social security for the older population (Bloom et al., 2010). Most older men and women in India live with their families, and it is the most preferred living arrangement of older people (Gupta, 2009). Families continue to be the central organizing unit for economic support and for providing care for those physically unable to care for themselves (Kozel and Parker, 2000; Samuel and Thyloth, 2002). In the absence of institutions that provide social insurance (Barrientos, Gorman, and Heslop, 2003; Lloyd-Sherlock, 2002), we suspect that India’s older populations will continue to rely on the family and social networks (Gupta, 2009; Gupta, Rowe, and Pillai, 2009). Social networks comprised of both family and friends are an important resource in the older person’s life (Cohen and Wills, 1985; Shanas, 1973, 1979), although there is little evidence in India of the impacts of social networks on physical and mental well-being. As the nature of family, intergenerational relationships, and the role of women in the family are changing, these transitions may well impact the care and welfare of older people (Lloyd-Sherlock, 2000, 2002). In some instances, the family in the 21st century may be unable to meet the needs of the aged, thereby creating a need to look for other support services. India’s National Policy on Older Persons (Government of India, 1999) emphasizes that programs will be developed to promote family values and sensitize the young to the necessity and desirability of intergenerational bonding and continuity.
The aim of this chapter is to provide a description of family and network ties among older men and women in India and to illustrate the dynamic interplay between caregiving and receiving among older people. In this chapter, we present findings from the Longitudinal Aging Study in India (LASI) pilot study, a cross-sectional survey of men and women over the age of 45 and their spouses in four states in India. In all our analysis, we will only include participants aged 45 and older: spouses younger than 45 were excluded because they were a representative sample of the population of their ages.