Family-provided long-term care and its coverage in European pension systems




family care work, social rights, international comparison and change, SCQual-method, quantification, comparative welfare state analysis, conceptual challenges, social orders


Objective: In this contribution, the question is raised in how far family care work is covered in the social rights of European welfare states, focussing on pension entitlements for family-provided long-term care.

Background: Old-age pensions are the major redistributive system of present-day societies. Central to current discourses on pensions and their reforms is the relevance of work as paid employment for building up pension rights. Family care work is largely disregarded, although established welfare states broadly cover also this work form in their pension systems.

Method: By applying the SCQual method, this article systematically quantifies current pension entitlements for family-provided long-term care in ten European countries, and their change. It reflects on the results by means of testing assumptions drawn from the most relevant research strands in the field and contributes to contextualising cross-national variation and change.

Results: The results show that pension entitlements for family-provided long-term care are found in most of our study countries, and that all the assumptions deduced from the literature, with regard to both cross-national variation and change in entitlements, are refuted by the empirical findings.

Conclusion: This study contributes to both the conceptual challenges of comparative welfare state research in general, and the concrete analysis of social rights entitlements. These are based not only on paid employment, but in most European countries also on family care work, as has been shown here. The conceptual differences and changes are fruitfully addressed in this contribution.


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How to Cite

Frericks, P. (2023). Family-provided long-term care and its coverage in European pension systems. Journal of Family Research, 35, 251–266.