Archivo de la etiqueta: Families

Role of Families In Youth Transitions

by José A. Vázquez, United Nations Representative of International Federation for Family Development

   Family support, network, aspirations, and expectations play a crucial role in youth transitions. The ability of the family members along with associated social policy schemes is put to test when young citizens start their way into emancipation. The role of the family and the policymakers is to make this transition worth the investment along the educational and training period. The National Transfer Accounts (NTA) represent a promising tool to measure the role of Latin American families in supporting youth transitions. The type, amount and reach of the generational economy are key to understanding the level of support and the type of expectations an aspirations of Latin American families toward their members in youth transitions. The NTA could contribute to measuring, through the private and public transfers of the generational economy, the reallocations of resources and so, the intentions in each period of time of the investments in education, training, and services towards preparing the transition. The paper will try to briefly present the NTA, its origins, method, and challenges. It will also present the NTA applications and connotations and explore some national realities and challenges. And lastly, some recommendations that may be done based on the regional data availability. The data and literature has been retrieved from the World Bank repository, UN Statistical Commission and NTA database.

Origins of the National Transfer Accounts

   The National Transfer Accounts (NTA) were born in 2004 and are recognized up until today as a well-established empirical tool for understanding the generational economy. [1] There are 80 participating countries involved in the project that are providing data, most of it come from government records and surveys matching in their aggregates the widely used System of National Accounts (SNA). [2]

   The main concept recognized in the NTA is the relationship between individuals who have economic resources to give and those who need them, those who incur a life cycle deficit during their youth and old age, when their consumption exceeds their labor income, and a life cycle surplus during their working years when their labor income more than covers their consumption. The eventual resource reallocation created between generations and across time can be consistently quantified and linked to the economic and social development of every family and society as a whole. [3]

   The NTA adds the subtle dimension of age and time to how we see economic flows: dependents who need various forms of financing to survive and thrive, and workers who finance them. The degree of such flows when seen through age and time is significant. For example, in 2004 older persons in Germany, continued to be net givers of private transfers, though small, they received public transfers equal to 10% of the country’s GDP, which is totally different to the small 1% received by Mexican older population. In this regard, the flows, captured by the NTA are representative of the demographic differences between countries and more importantly for us of the varying roles of the state, the markets and of families, all of which influence resource reallocations. [4]

   The rapid population growth seen in the second half of the 20thcentury concerned academics and politicians and provoked an intense debate on the developmental consequences of such rates, particularly for lowincome countries. Experts warned of food and land shortages due to the increasing demand, potential rise of unemployment, deterioration of income and capital formation, degradation of natural resources and the general fall of human welfare. [5]

   Reports and Commissions around the world recommended actions in lowincome countries to stabilize their rapid population growth rates, prevent effects on poverty and improving policies on education, childcare services, and family planning [6]. Since then, the fear of the effect of population growth on economic development was negatively perceived and the literature reflected the view that population growth control is a necessary condition to sustain human welfare and human rights.[7]

   However, in 1960s the world’s population growth rate reached its peak and international concerns switched to population aging. Old age dependency increased and raised questions about healthcare and retirement. Rapidly, experts started to relate demographic structure to classical macroeconomic models in order to see the economy through the lenses of several generations and turn to the role of intergenerational transfers to livelong transitions. [8]

The methodology of the National Transfer Accounts

   The NTA project comes into this context and helps to quantify the allocation of economic resources between ages, in a unified and standardized manner. The National Transfer Accounts are based on a, age specific, flow identity that captures economic movements at each point in time. In this way, it can be differentiated from the STAs while introducing age to the aggregate data. It marks the essential role of intergenerational transfer while disaggregating the major components of income, consumption, and savings by age.

   In the future, with much more national accounts completed, the role of families, government and market can be better measured in the age reallocation of public and private resources. Plus, it can provide realistic estimates of intergenerational flows that have been of interest to researchers and policymakers for many decades as alternatives or complements to public policy. Through a standardized dataset available for many countries, the NTA becomes particularly useful when analyzing a wide range of issues such as social security, pensions systems, intergenerational equity, human capital accumulation, and youth unemployment.

   The NTA method captures those economic flows and pinpoints the aggregate budget constrain for individuals of certain age by adding two variables to the life cycle model: age of the individual and the relevant time period. So, the economic life cycle model at a certain age, summing both public and private flows and capturing at the same time those domestic and international, can be seenas follows [9]:

Inflows L(x,t) + K(x,t) + P(x,t) + T(x,t) + C(x,t)

Outflows L(x,t) + K(x,t) + P(x,t) + T(x,t) + C(x,t) + S(x,t)

L (value of labor income inflow received for age (or age group). K (capital income inflow. P (property income flow, received (+) and spent ()). T (flow of transfers net of paid taxes received (+) and spent ()). C (consumption). S (savings from the residual between the various types of income net of consumption).

   If the identity of inflows and outflows is rearranged, the result shows the economic life cycle for each age and thus, the mechanism to determine the resources reallocated across generations.

Age re-allocations

Lifetime deficit = Net transfers+ Asset-based re-allocations.

C(x,t) L(x,t) = [T+(x,t) –T(x,t)]+ [A(x,t) S(x,t)]

   The lifetime deficit (or surplus) is the difference between consumption and labor income for every relevant age or age group and funded by or distributed through transfers and asset based reallocations for each age at each point in time, where asset income inflow (A) represents the sum of capital and net property income.

   In this regard, the lifetime deficit, as the key concept of generational economy, includes households’ private and public consumption of various goods and services, private and public education, healthcare and other extracurricular activities for the members of the family. While, labor income tries to reflect salaries, bonuses, and benefits, along with self-employed and unpaid family members income.

Youth transitions: Family support, networks, expectations and aspirations

   Family support is a recognized social protective function during the transition periods of emancipation or dependency. Many families experience uncertainty and vulnerability during these phases, especially when their young members move into adulthood, procure access to employment opportunities and decent work while seeking their autonomy [10]. However, the rapid socioeconomic transformations, often combined with the eroding capacity of the State to protect households through social policy interventions, leave a large number of families poor and vulnerable [11]

   The role of families in social inclusion and integration is indispensable for the social inclusion of all individuals, especially youth. There is a rising necessity to support youth transitions as a key component of social inclusion and poverty eradication [12]. Nevertheless, the challenges faced by parents and young members of the family are growing. Either because families with strong intergenerational support and reliance are declining in numbers or, because many young people postpone marriage, stay single and live longer with their parents [13], or even because the changing population age structures is attracting more attention to older persons [14].

   The family role and the state social scheme effectiveness are put to test when the youth emancipation is in process. Families and policies are called to demonstrate their ability to support the transition, the responsiveness of the family and institutional networks and the expectations and aspirations for the best outcome. In this regard, family support may improve employment options, career perspectives, and educational, skills and training development. Also, the access to family, social, professional and recreational networks might improve the choices and timeline to have employment opportunities [15]. Finally, the expectations and aspirations can play a motivational role in the job search while fostering competitiveness, supporting role models and setting wage goals.

  Unfortunately, family support, networks, expectations, and aspirations are variables difficult to measure. The intensity and extent of the family implication is not clearly reflected in the data available. Nevertheless, if we would be able to determine the type, amount and reach of the generational transfers intended to support the youth transition at a time period and age, we would be able to translate that investment into the support, expectations, and aspirations of parents grandparents regarding the future of their children in Latin America.

   When families spend a great deal of money on the education and training on their children, they usually cultivate great expectations and secure that investment along the growing period. But also, families dedicate a great deal of time and effort during the transition period. The first is intended to be more effective in the long term and with better outcomes, while the latter tends to prioritize the effectiveness over the goal.

   The NTA is a great tool to trace the dynamics of the so called lifetime deficit through three different periods of individuals’ lives: the deficit period of children in the family that do not work, but consume more than they produce; followed by a surplus period when the youth enters in a working age and start to accumulate wealth, so producing more than consuming; and the deficit period where older persons retire or do not earn enough to cover their consumption.

   In this cycle, our attention is turned to the generation who is transitioning from a deficit period to a surplus period, from childhood into youth. Other generations in the family as of parents, grandparents or siblings (of older age) would have given their support or will be keen to do so in order to ensure this transition. With their support, the other generations in the family will inspire the young ones to become those working age individuals, who enjoy life cycle surpluses and not only fund their own consumption but also provide transfers and asset based re-allocations for children and elderly.

   Thanks to the ability to calculate the age re-allocations of net transfers and assets, together with the variables of consumption, especially in education, training and services we can be able to measure the level, quality and extent of the support of parents (in the surplus period) and grandparents (returning to the deficit period) to the future or ongoing transitions into adulthood. Furthermore, we can determine the expectations and aspirations of the family members regarding their youth while tracing the age re-allocations of consumption in areas such as training, services, and extracurricular activities.

   The convenience of this inter-generational exchange perspective, where various forms and mechanisms of economic support are shown, is very useful [16]. First, transfers as re-allocations of resources between individuals that do not involve a formal, explicit quid pro quo can be made within the family or through the public sector, via the collection of taxes and the allocation of government spending [17]. Together the private and public transfers are complimentary and are important in most societies. For example, the extension of public education expands a public in kind transfer system that benefits all covered school age children.

   Plus, another class of reallocation is asset-based reallocation, as the accumulation and reduction of financial and physical assets over the lifetime. So, for example, in many Latin American countries, real estate and financial markets have become more accessible and the current younger generations of adults are accumulating more assets than their parents’ generation, allowing them to support themselves when old. [18]

  These transfers and the asset-based reallocation show the implications and effects of various types of family support according with inter-generational re-allocations. Their components can be measured, studied and compared between Latin American realities.

    Although in Latin America private transfers finance more than 60% of the consumption of young people [19], there are cases of heavy reliance on public transfers too, such as Uruguay, Brazil, with generous and extensive social security coverage and extensive public primary education programs, respectively [20]. For instance, the private transfers in Chile are substantial, as in many societies, Latin American countries are mostly familial transfers those supporting children, teenagers, and young adults. In Chile during 1997, the generations under the age of 27 are net transfer receivers. One of the reasons that may explain the level and age distribution of familial transfers in Chile is that, although the country has a fairly extensive coverage of public education and government transfers to children are quite significant, these transfers cover only a fraction of children’ total consumption, hence the need for substantial familial support. [21]

   In Ecuador, substantive efforts have been made to support youth transitions with a conjunction of public and private transfers [22]. While in Colombia and Costa Rica the focus on the family support has been set to the time spent at home in unpaid care work arrangement. The dynamics reflect the transfers of unpaid activities done by one generation to another. At the same time, it is an opportunity to measure the expectations and aspirations of the dedication of time at home related to the outcomes after the transitions. [23]

   For El Salvador, the applied methodology of the NTA goes into the details of the private transfers. The Central American country describe the commitment and support of the family from the very beginning of the deficit lifetime and describes the tuition expense, supplies, uniforms, texts, school shoes, parents’ quo-ta, monthly fee, refreshments as part of the private transfer. [24]

Conclusions and recommendations

  The measurable age re-allocations of transfer and as-sets contribute determining the role of families in supporting youth employment outcomes. The more data availability provided in Latin American in this regard, will contribute to the public and private sector support to the transitions from childhood into adulthood.

   Moreover, the capacity to track the transfer between generations among the family will contribute to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially while “substantially increase the number of youth (and adults) who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship”. [25]

Note: Paper presented at the Expert Group Meeting on “The Role of Families and Family Policy in Supporting Youth Transitions” held on 11-12 December 2018 in Doha, Qatar and organized by the Doha International Family Institute (DIFI), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, in collaboration with the Division for Inclusive Social Development of the Department of Economic and Social affairs (UNDESA) and the International Federation for Family Development (IFFD). More info at:


Andrés Chacón, Social and Cultural Anthropology Master candidate, KU Leuven University (Belgium)
Instituto de la Familia, Universidad de la Sabana (Colombia)


[1] Mason, A. & Lee R. (2011).
[2] National Transfer Accounts. [3] D’Albis, H. & Moosa, D. (2015).
[4] D’Albis, H. & Moosa, D. (2015).
[5] Coale, A. & Hoover, E. (1958).
[6] The Pearson Report: A new strategy for global development (1970).
[7] Population and the American Future. Technical report (March 1972); Population Planning: Sector working paper. Technical Report 11067 (March 1972); World Population Plan of Action. Technical report (1974).
[8] Samuelson, P. (1958).
[9] L (value of labor income inflow received for age (or age group). K (capital income inflow. P (property income flow, received (+) and spent (-)). T (flow of transfers net of paid taxes received (+) and spent (-)). C (consumption). S (savings from the residual between the various types of income net of consumption).
[10] Third Committee Draft Resolution, Follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond, A/C.3/73/L.19/Rev.1, 2018, PP. 3.
[11] Report of the Secretary-General, Follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond, A/66/62–E/2011/4, 2011, OP 24.
[12] Report of the Secretary-General, Follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond, A/73/61–E/2018/4, 2018, OP 71.
[13] Report of the Secretary-General, Follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond, A/66/62–E/2011/4, 2011, OP 4.
[14] Mason, A, Lee, R., Stojanovic, D., Abrigo, M., Syud, A. (2016)
[15] Ali, Amjad, Shafiqa Ahsan and Sophia F. Dziegielewski. (2017). Social and family capital and youth career intension: a case study in Pakistan. Cogent Business and management 4, p. 12.
[16] Report of the Secretary-General, Follow-up to the tenth anniversary of the International Yearof the Family and beyond, A/73/61–E/2018/4, 2018, OP. 45.
[17] These transfers are given or received in cash or kindas good and services.
[18] Bravo, J. & Holz M. (2009).
[19] Finance of consumption, Latin American countries. NTA project, of countries with available data, as of May 2009.
[20] Turra, C., Queiroz, B., Rios-Neto, E. (2011). Bucheli, M. & González, C. (2011).
[21] Bravo, J. & Holz M. (2009).
[22] Fretes-Cibilis, V., Giugale, M., Somensatto, E., editors (2008).
[23] Urdinola, P. & Urdino, J. (2017). Jimenez-Fontana, P. (2016).
[24] Werner Peña, S. & Rivera, M.E. (2016).
[25] Sustainable Development Goal 4, Target 4.4.

El matrimonio como institución natural

  por Lelia Díaz, jurista

De todas las estructuras humanas nacionales e internacionales, la más importante es la de la familia. Porque en la familia se forjan los valores humanos y se sientan los pilares del desarrollo y perfeccionamiento de los ciudadanos. Pero, antes que la familia existe otra realidad natural, el matrimonio. Ambas han existido desde siempre como instituciones naturales. Ahora, en pleno siglo XXI, se convierte en imperiosa necesidad revalorar esas realidades para determinar si el contenido heterosexual del matrimonio debe permanecer o no. En ese sentido, ¿cabe la posibilidad de que la regulación internacional, constitucional, civil del matrimonio extienda su protección jurídica a las personas del mismo sexo? ¿Si no lo hace, habría la posibilidad de que se caiga en supuestos de discriminación por razón de sexo u orientación sexual?

La finalidad de este artículo consiste en traer a colación algunas reflexiones de cómo se concebía el matrimonio en las sociedades primitivas, en el Derecho romano y de cómo se reconoce el matrimonio y la familia en la legislación internacional. En la parte final abordaremos una línea para poder encarar con éxito dicha cuestión.

Así, es primordial reconocer que el derecho es una realidad social que existe gracias al hombre. Se trata de una creación humana. El derecho entra dentro del ámbito de la experiencia de las personas, de su disponibilidad; es un instrumento útil y un artículo de primera necesidad[1], revelándose como expresión de su cultura[2]. El derecho ordena la convivencia de las personas en la sociedad[3], debiendo encontrar la estabilidad en la sociedad, más allá de lo convencional y artificial[4]. El  derecho no puede dejar de tener un nexo necesario con la sociedad[5]. En otras palabras, el derecho tiene como precedentes otras realidades, la naturaleza de las cosas que ni la voluntad de los hombres ni las leyes las pueden modificar.

En ese sentido, es importante mencionar que el matrimonio es una realidad social que existe desde que existe el hombre, desde la fase más primitiva. Nace como una institución que alberga personas, protagonizada por un varón y una mujer. Aunque las formas y tipos de matrimonios hayan ido variando, a lo largo de la historia, “tienen en común un efecto: proporciona al hijo un padre y una madre socialmente reconocidos[6]. El matrimonio es la fuente y fundamento del sistema de parentesco que rige una sociedad[7]. El matrimonio “constituye un dato empírico indiscutible que en las sociedades de cazadores recolectores conocidas, hombres y mujeres contraen matrimonios y forman familias nucleares”[8]. Siguiendo esta lógica, se puede entrever que la familia se funda como realidad natural, precedida de una unión “matrimonial”, de dos personas mujer y varón[9]. Esa heterosexualidad es una realidad social desde la antigüedad.

En el derecho antiguo, específicamente romano, el origen de la familia es el hecho (factum) del matrimonio – iustae nuptiae, iustum matrimonium – que la jurisprudencia romana clásica define al matrimonio como “la unión de hombre y mujer en pleno consorcio de su vida…”[10]. Y en palabras de Modestino: “El matrimonio es la unión de hombre y mujer en pleno consorcio de vida y comunicación del derecho divino y humano[11]. Situación de hecho, pero con algunas consecuencias jurídicas[12]. En esta sociedad romana, el matrimonio contaba con dos elementos: uno objetivo, representado por la cohabitación y otro subjetivo, representado por la affectio maritalis[13]. Entre otros elementos jurídicos que constituyen el matrimonio como institución percibidos hasta este punto, es la heterosexualidad[14] y tiene una finalidad[15] que es fundar una familia[16].

Nos parece reseñable enfatizar la fuente del Derecho romano, porque en él se ha formado la tradición de la ciencia jurídica de nuestro derecho actual, de nuestras legislaciones, principalmente europea e iberoamericana[17]. Allí radica el valor de redescubrir la institución jurídica del matrimonio y en ella, su elemento de la heterosexualidad. Y ese descubrir nos ha llevado a afirmar que el matrimonio es una realidad natural heterosexual.

El derecho, como instrumento al servicio del hombre, ha regulado el matrimonio como una institución natural que se forma de la unión de un “varón” y una “mujer” como unidad para “fundar” una “familia”. Es importante reconocer que el derecho como norma jurídica es una realidad dinámica. En ese sentido, el derecho debe innovar, pero sin destruir principios que emanan de la misma naturaleza de las cosas que son inmutables. En virtud de ello, el matrimonio es una realidad preexistente al derecho, realidad que no debe cambiar. El matrimonio es más que un derecho, es una institución natural que tiene un nexo muy estrecho y de finalidad, fundar una familia.

Por otro lado, es importante revisar la legislación internacional en torno al matrimonio y a la familia. En ese sentido, la concepción del matrimonio que se desprende de la lectura de la legislación con carácter universal tiene como elementos esenciales unos más explícitas que otros. Los explícitos son el consentimiento, identidad con la familia y la formalidad; los implícitos, la heterosexualidad o complementariedad y la unión monogámica. Por ejemplo, en el artículo 16°.1 de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos (DUDH) de 1948, se establece que “Los hombres y las mujeres, a partir de la edad núbil, tienen derecho, sin restricción alguna por motivos de raza, nacionalidad o religión, a casarse y fundar una familia; y disfrutarán de iguales derechos en cuanto al matrimonio, durante el matrimonio y en caso de disolución del matrimonio. 2. Sólo mediante libre y pleno consentimiento de los futuros esposos podrá contraerse el matrimonio. 3. La familia es el elemento natural y fundamental de la sociedad y tiene derecho a la protección de la sociedad y del Estado”.

Asimismo, en el artículo 23° del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos (PIDCP) con vigencia desde 1976 en el artículo 23° prescribe que “1. La familia es el elemento natural y fundamental de la sociedad y tiene derecho a la protección de la sociedad y del Estado. 2. Se reconoce el derecho del hombre y de la mujer a contraer matrimonio y a fundar una familia si tienen edad para ello. 3. El matrimonio no podrá celebrarse sin el libre y pleno consentimiento de los contrayentes. 4. Los Estados Partes en el presente Pacto tomarán las medidas apropiadas para asegurar la igualdad de derechos y de responsabilidades de ambos esposos en cuanto al matrimonio, durante el matrimonio y en caso de disolución del mismo. En caso de disolución, se adoptarán disposiciones que aseguren la protección necesaria a los hijos”.

Por otro lado, en el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales en el artículo (PIDESC), vigente también desde 1976, en el artículo 10°: “Los Estados Partes en el presente Pacto reconocen que: 1. Se debe conceder a la familia, que es el elemento natural y fundamental de la sociedad, la más amplia protección y asistencia posibles, especialmente para su constitución y mientras sea responsable del cuidado y la educación de los hijos a su cargo. El matrimonio debe contraerse con el libre consentimiento de los futuros cónyuges…”.

Los tres documentos legales mencionados forman parte de la Carta Internacional de Derechos Humanos. Rige para –hasta el momento– 193 estados miembros que han ratificado su permanencia en las Naciones Unidas (NN.UU)[18] y como tal todos esos estados[19] tienen la obligación de respetar y resguardar los principios y derechos que se han establecido en esos dispositivos jurídicos, con carácter imperativo[20] de ius cogens[21].

En virtud a ello, los legisladores de cada estado deben proponer leyes afines y coherentes con los principios de las normas internacionales. De esa manera se evita también que la “tutela de un derecho interfiera excesivamente en otros derechos fundamentales, o, incluso con exigencias diferentes respecto a los derechos fundamentales, como ciertos intereses públicos o colectivos[22]. Y consecuentemente los operadores del derecho deben interpretar los dispositivos normativos con rigor científico. Es decir, deberán aplicar diversas técnicas de interpretación e integración para desvelar el sentido real de la norma, aplicando también criterios y principios de carácter universal que emanan de la naturaleza de las cosas[23]. Recordemos que el derecho, entendido como norma propuesta o reconocida por el legislador, debe seguir a la persona en su integridad[24].

Es importante mostrar que el matrimonio como institución natural, tal como lo reconocen los documentos antes citados y reconocido también en el Derecho romano, es distinto al “derecho a contraer matrimonio”[25]. Y este derecho, al ser derecho fundamental debe ser analizado teniendo en cuenta su contenido esencial[26] y ese contenido debe ser coherente con la concepción del matrimonio expuesto. Es decir, que en el seno de su contenido debe guardar como elementos básicos la heterosexualidad y la familia.

[1] Cfr. HERVADA, Javier. ¿Qué es el derecho?, 3° Ed., EUNSA, Pamplona, 2011, p. 37.

[2] Cfr. COTTA, Sergio. ¿Qué es el derecho? Rialp, Madrid, 1993, p.27.

[3] Cfr. GROSSI, Paolo. “El orden Jurídico Medieval”, traducido por Francisco Tomás y Valiente y Clara Álvarez, Madrid, Marcial Pons, 1996, p. 28.

[4] Cfr. Ibídem, p. 76.

[5] Cfr. Ibídem, p. 80.

[6] RIBAS, José María. “Prehistoria del Derecho”, España, Almuzara, 2015, p. 102.

[7] Cfr. RIBAS, José María, op., cit, p. 102.

[8] RIBAS, José María, op., cit, p. 103.

[9] Cfr. EMBER-EMBER, C.R. “Antropología cultural”,1997, Trad. DE CANCEL, D. y otros en Ribas, José María. “Prehistoria del Derecho”, España, Almuzara, 2015, p. 105.

[10] BETANCOURT, Fernando. Derecho Romano Clásico, 3° Edición, Publicaciones de la Universidad de Sevilla, Sevilla, 2007, p. 411.

[11] D’ORS, A; HERNÁNDEZ-TEGESO, F. y otros en versión castellana. EL Digesto de Justiniano. Versión Castellana, Aranzadi, Tomo II, Libros 20-36, Pamplona, 1972, D. 23, 2, 1, p. 102.

[12] Cfr. D’ORS, Álvaro. Elementos de derecho privado romano, 5° Ed. Eunsa, Navarra, 2104, p. 145.

[13] Cfr. BETANCOURT, Fernando, op., cit, p. 411.

[14] CFR. ALCÍVAR, Carlos y otros. Lex canuleia como fuente en la norma del matrimonio de la legislatura ecuatoriana, In Crescendo, Derecho, 2015; 2(2), encontrado en file:///C:/Users/Lelia/Downloads/1144-3765-1-PB%20(1).pdf, visitado el 27 de noviembre de 2017.

[15] Cfr. MAZZINGHI, Jorge. Tratado de Derecho de Familia, Buenos Aires, p. 8

[16] Cfr. La Instituta de Gayo, traducido por Robert Joseph Pothier, Imprenta de la Sociedad Literaria y Tipográfica, Madrid, 1854. Entrado en

[17] Cfr. D’ORS, Álvaro, op., cit, p. 20.

[18] Ubicado en, consultado el 27 de noviembre de 2017.

[19] Cfr. YASSEEN, Mustafá en NOVAK, Fabian y GARCÍA-CORROCHANO, Luis. Derecho Internacional Público, 2° Edición, Tomo I, Lima, Thomson Reuters, 2016, p.486.

[20] Cfr. ACOSTA, Juana y DUQUE, Ana. “Declaración universal de derechos humanos, ¿norma de ius cogens? En International Law: Revista Colombiana de Derecho Internacional, N° 12, Edición Especial 2008, p.31.

[21] Cfr. JUSTE, José; CASTILLO, Mireya; y, BOU, Valentín. Lecciones de Derecho Internacional Público, 2° Edición, Valencia, Tirant lo Blanch, 2011, p. 95-96.

[22] PINO, Giorgio. Derechos fundamentales, conflictos y ponderación, Palestra, Lima, 2013, p. 232.

[23] Cfr. GROSSI, Paolo. El orden jurídico medieval, Marcial Pons, Madrid, 1996 p. 18.

[24]Cfr.  HERVADA, Javier. Escritos de derecho natural. 3° Ed. Eunsa, Pamplona, 2013, p. 117.

[25] Crf. VILADRICH, Pedro. La agonía del matrimonio, Eunsa, Pamplona, 1984, p. 49-53.

[26] Cfr. CASTILLO, Luis. El significado del contenido esencial de los derechos fundamentales. En Revista foro jurídico, núm. 13, Lima, 2014, p. 145.

Families in the cities

Families at the cornerstone of the New Urban Agenda

The New Urban Agenda has been finally agreed at the United Nations Headquarters during the Habitat III Informal Intergovernmental Meeting in early September. The outcome will be adopted in October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador, where Heads of State and Government, Ministers and High Representatives will be addressing the way cities and human settlements are planned, designed, financed, developed, governed and managed. The New Urban Agenda has the same goals agreed for the 2030 Agenda: contribute to reducing inequalities; promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth; end poverty and hunger; foster resilience; achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls; improve human health and well-being; and protect the environment[1].

There is a wide array of guidance and recommendations regarding the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Among the United Nations programmes and agencies, in which UN-Habitat have taken the lead with the upcoming conference, evidence-based and practical initiatives contribute along with relevant stakeholders in close collaboration with Member States, local authorities, major groups, civil society and the mobilization of experts. Within the United Nations system alone, we can find initiatives such as UN-Habitat’s ‘Global Network on Safer Cities’; Unicef’s ‘Child Friendly Cities’; and projects such as the World Health Organization’s ‘Healthy Cities’ and Unesco’s ‘Growing Up in Cities’. Other international and intergovernmental organizations, in cooperation with the United Nations, have promoted studies and programs closely related to urban areas, for example, ‘Urban Development’ from the World Bank and OECD’s publication on ‘Ageing in Cities’.

It is projected that the urban population will reach 5 billion people by 2030, compared with today’s 3.5 billion; that is two-thirds of the global population living in cities. Nowadays, more than 80% of global GDP is generated in cities, which means that urbanization can contribute to sustainable growth, if managed well, by increasing productivity, and allowing innovation and new ideas to emerge. graf1The most urgent task is for city leaders to move quickly to plan for growth and provide basic services, infrastructure, and housing for their expanding population’s needs. However, the speed and scale of urbanization brings challenges, including meeting accelerated demand for affordable, well-connected transport systems, and basic services, as well as jobs, particularly for the nearly 1 billion urban poor who live in informal settlements in order to be near any opportunities that may arise[2].

A strong reaction to these challenges is essential in order to ensure the safe growth of children, independent living and well-being for older persons, and equal access to society for people with disabilities. A problematic home environment, by contrast, can have detrimental effects on all members of the family. Building cities that ‘work’–in terms of being inclusive, safe, resilient, productive and liveable–requires intensive policy coordination and investment choices. National and local governments have an important role to play to take action now, to shape the future of their development, and to create opportunities for all, so that no one will be left behind.

In order to build cities that work, three core pillars must be taken into account. It is necessary to 1) improve living conditions for families: infrastructure services, tenure, housing, and neighbourhoods; 2) strengthen city finances, planning, and governance systems with a holistic approach of participation from families; and 3) support urban transformation from a family perspective to develop land-use planning, management, and implementation of integrated investments in infrastructure and service delivery for all family members. These pillars will require an action plan that includes social cohesion and equity, urban framework, spatial development, urban economy, urban ecology and environment, and urban housing and basic services.

Social cohesion and spatial development

The ‘New Urban Agenda’ envisages cities and human settlements that “are participatory; promote civic engagement; engender a sense of belonging and ownership among all their inhabitants; prioritize safe, inclusive, accessible, green, and quality public spaces; are friendly for families; and enhance social and intergenerational interactions”[3]. Within this framework, the first action for any social cohesion and cultural development within cities should be related to the inclusion of children. The most vulnerable group of any society is the key component to guide local governments in the achievement of their goals, policies, programmes and structures.

In order to be inclusive for children, these should ensure that they can participate in family, community and social life, receive basic services such as health care and education, access to proper sanitation, be safe, socialize, live in a healthy environment, participate in cultural and social events and be an equal citizen with access to every service, regardless of ethnic origin, religion, income, gender or disability[4].

Senior citizens are another vulnerable group in cities. In OECD countries, the number of people over 65 is growing quickly. Between 2001-11, ageing in cities rose from 12% to 14%, in contrast with the increase of total population in cities of just 8.8%. This trend raises awareness regarding the need for suitable infrastructure, labour market reform, increased supply of social housing, and higher spending on health and social care.

The new urban agenda is going to face complex challenges in cities with dense infrastructure while adjusting to the new reality. Some progress has been made to build accessible cities for people with disabilities, but senior citizens also have particular requirements, especially if the urbanization trend is added to the equation: 80% of senior citizens live in urban areas in developed countries. habitat-iiiFor example, in terms of housing, 25% of senior citizens do not own the homes they live in, whilst, in the USA, for example, 29% live alone. In the EU, the ratio of elderly to working-age people is currently nearly 20%, and may double by 2030. These facts alone have important implications for sustainable urban development in terms of spatial strategies: land market, mobility, transportation and housing policies[5].

The impact of ageing societies in cities is clear. In what way cities will mitigate the challenges and become more elderly-friendly is a matter of perspective and collective response. An initial approach is within the family, where more than one generation lives together in an inclusive environment. In families, the diversity of roles that the elder members of the family can carry out is as valuable as the array of care they may need while ageing. Therefore, public and private actors, including national and local governments, may work together to find ways to involve families to tackle, as a unit, the challenges to come.

Between the children and the elderly there is a segment of society with growing leadership and attention, the so-called ‘youth’. The outcome draft resolution of the New Urban Agenda has given “particular attention to the potential contributions from all segments of society, including men and women, children and youth […]”[6]. In the industrialized countries, a half to three-quarters of all children and youths live in urban areas; in the developing world, the majority of them will be urban in the next few decades.

Cities need young people as active participants in evaluating their communities, in determining priorities for change, and in helping make change really happen. A successful process in order to acquire these objectives may be a holistic approach through the family. We have seen in many countries how families have proved to be an essential component in tackling unemployment situations. Starting with their own families, young citizens improve the quality of their communities and develop greater awareness of the world around them. By appreciating the different generations represented in their own homes, they develop greater appreciation of their own value and skills, and develop self-confidence through involvement in improving public spaces in their local area: the same places where they will need to demonstrate social and environmental responsibility and the capacity for democratic action when they become adults.

Urban economy and environmental resilience

While most of the global population and capital goods are concentrated in cities, urban areas remain crucial to social development and economic prosperity. They drive most of the national economic growth and are a source of innovation, facing sanitation challenges and security matters while acting as cultural and creative centres.

Modern cities need to be resilient to develop the new urban agenda, so constant diagnoses of urban strength are needed. Only a holistic approach of the numerous variables within the cities can manage to give a complete picture of the city’s vigour, and dialogue among stakeholders is equally important. Any effort aimed at facilitating dialogue among stakeholders (for example, government, civil society, residents, and the private sector) about risks, resilience, and the performance of urban systems is a worthwhile cause. With an accurate diagnosis, priority actions and investments can be identified, as well as strengthening resilience for planned or aspirational projects. So, it seems clear that a holistic and integrated approach that encourages cross-sectorial collaboration is more efficient when tackling existing issues and unlocking opportunities within the city[8].

One of the hallmarks of a resilient city is the capacity to create jobs, successfully facilitating its firms and industries to be competitive, raise productivity, and increase the income of citizens over time. While, locally, a city contributes to national development, worldwide, competitive cities become a pathway to eliminating extreme poverty and to promoting shared prosperity among families. In previous years, the primary source of job creation has been the growth of private-sector firms, which have typically accounted for around 75% of job creation. Thus, city leaders need to be familiar with the factors that help to attract, to retain, and to expand the private sector and the well-being of families.[9]

Inclusive cities for sustainable families

The family unit has proven to be the main agent for development within societies and the cornerstone for sustainable cities. Therefore, its area of action must be of great concern in order to facilitate its role in generations to come. If families are these crucial development agents, an adequate environment is needed to facilitate their role.

Within a social dimension, a holistic approach to the family will definitely contribute in the three different aspects of sustainable development, and will make possible an accurate assessment of the needs for inclusive cities, especially in terms of investment in infrastructure. In order to achieve this objective, families may need to be provided with adequate tools for strengthening their ability to reach their potential as productive, engaged, and capable agents of sustainable development, contributing fully to their members and communities. Sustainable cities start and end with cohesive and inclusive families.


José Alejandro Vazquez is PhD Researcher and the International Federation for Family Development Representative to the United Nations, New York.

Extract from the original paper published by IFFD.

[1] A/RES/70/210.


[3] HABITAT III, New Urban Agenda. Draft outcome document for adoption in Quito, October 2016,

[4] UNICEF – Innocenti Research Center, Building Child Friendly Cities. A Framework for Action, 2004. UNICEF – Innocenti Research Center, Assessing and Monitoring Child Friendly Communities and Cities. Analyzing results and moving forward, 2010. UNICEF – Innocenti Research Center, Certification systems and other assessment mechanisms for child friendly cities: A study with a focus on Europe. 2011.

[5] OECD (2015), Ageing in Cities, OECD Publishing, Paris.

[6] HABITAT III, New Urban Agenda. Draft outcome document for adoption in Quito, October 2016,

[7] Chawla, L. (Ed.), Growing Up in an Urbanising World. Paris / London: UNESCO Publishing / Earthscan, 2002.

[8] WORLD BANK, The CityStrength Diagnostic – Resilient Cities Program, 2015,

[9] KILROY, Austin Francis Louis; MUKIM, Megha; NEGRI, Stefano; “Competitive cities for jobs and growth: what, who, and how”, 2015/01/01

[10] Terminology for the European Conference on Health, Society and Alcohol: A glossary with equivalents in French, German and Russian. WHO (EURO), Copenhagen, 1995.

[11] Harpham et al. (2001). Healthy city projects in developing countries: The first evaluation. Health Promotion International. 16(2): 111-125. Khosh-Chashm, K. (1995) Healthy Cities and Healthy Villages. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal. 1(2): 103-111. Kenzer M. (2000) Healthy Cities: A guide to the literature. Public Health Reports. 115: 279–289. Tsouros, A. (1995) The WHO Healthy Cities Project: state of the art and future plans. Health Promotion International. 10(2): 133-141.