The authors examine the relations between generations and argue, in essence, that the transfers between younger and older groups, both public and private, that are increasingly discussed quite appropriately in the context of how pensions are to be financed in future, cannot be properly understood without taking into account family relationships and structures.
They show that the debate on the future of pensions often focuses too narrowly on two players : the market and the state (and on two systems : redistribution and capitalization). They emphasize the need to consider financial flows within the family group, which can differ enormously depending upon the family's resources, the numbers and preferences of each generation.
After discussing the key arguments put forward in support of capitalization and of redistribution, they stress the crucial role of the family and how this role can change as the number of generations rises and resources are increasingly switched within and between generations. The authors illustrate their thesis with data available for France, but it is clearly also applicable to any country with an ageing population.