Social risks of family carers in the context of welfare state policies
Keywords:European welfare states, care policy, family care, social risks, welfare regime
Objective: To determine how European care policies for older people differ in terms of their potential social risks to family carers, as well as the extent to which these differences can be explained by different types of welfare and care regime.
Background: It is often assumed that welfare state support for family care entails high social risks to the carer, such as loss of employment income and social security rights. This paper challenges these assumptions and argues that care policies that generously support family carers might also alleviate some of the social risks related to family care.
Method: This paper introduces an innovative approach to systematically measuring the generosity of policies that support family carers, and it theorises how these policies connect to family carers' social risks. It then applies this approach to a comparative study of five European welfare states based on analyses of these countries’ care policy documents, standardised policy reports by national experts and data from comparative social policy databases.
Results: The findings reveal large cross-national differences in care policy design, which is only in some cases able to significantly mitigate social risks for family carers. Furthermore, these cross-national differences only partly correspond with assumptions based on welfare and care regime affiliation according to classic typologies.
Conclusion: The paper sheds new light on the ways in which welfare states design their policies towards family carers, and on the extent to which these policies are associated with social risks.
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