Social inequalities and the wellbeing of family caregivers across European care regimes
Keywords:gender, care relations, SES, Europe, later life, SHARE, ELSA
Objective: In Europes' ageing societies, informal care is increasingly critical for fulfilling the care needs of older people. Social inequalities in informal care are, however, still poorly understood, and the (differential) wellbeing consequences of caregiving remain unclear.
Background: To this end, we provide an overview of empirical results, methodological challenges, and open questions originating from our research project IN-CARE (2019-22) that set out to assess inequalities in care and wellbeing in different care regimes. In this article, we focus on social gradients in informal care and its impact on wellbeing across European care contexts from the perspective of caregivers.
Method: Based on the data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) and the English Longitudinal Study (ELSA) we applied different regression techniques and estimated fixed-effects models.
Results: We find a socio-economic gradient in informal care and wellbeing. Yet, we do not find socio-economic differences in the effects of caregiving on caregivers’ wellbeing across European countries with different LTC policies. Also, we observe strong gender differences in the association of caregiving with caregivers’ wellbeing within the population of 50+, which depend on different care arrangements and care regimes.
Conclusion: We conclude that gender is still the central inequality dimension in informal caregiving, linked to many other inequality dimensions, and strongly dependent on different care contexts. Thus, when designing social policies, multiple cross-level interactions and path dependencies should be considered.
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