The ‘crowding-out’ and the ‘decline of the family’ hypotheses are the fundamental theoretical notions underlying the literature on cross-country differences in informal support. In this study, we expand upon these notions to develop and test the premise that cultural context shapes European’s views about an often overlooked source of support: non-kin. We carefully conceptualise cultural context as individualistic values and familialistic norms. Employing multilevel multinomial models and European Quality of Life Survey data from 27 countries, we confirm the importance of decomposing the broader notion of culture by demonstrating that contexts with both less pronounced individualistic values and less pronounced familialistic norms are conducive to non-kin rather than kin or professional help. Moreover, unlike prior work, which suggested the existence of a north/west-south/east divide in support patterns, our findings show nuanced cross-national differences in the importance of non-kin ties as a source of advice and help when looking for a job. We find some of the highest levels of non-kin reliance in countries in southern and eastern Europe, and in northern and western Europe more generally. We conclude by proposing ways in which future research can advance our understanding of the role of context in shaping support patterns.

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Keywords cross-country comparison, culture, Europe, Non-kin, support sources
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Journal European Societies
Conkova, N. (Nina), Fokkema, T, & Dykstra, P.A. (2017). Non-kin ties as a source of support in Europe: understanding the role of cultural context. European Societies, 1–26. doi:10.1080/14616696.2017.1405058