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Foreign live-in domestic workers as caretakers of older Kuwaiti men and women: socio-demographic and health correlates


Ageing of the population is posing new challenges for caretakers. This paper aims to examine: (a) age and gender differences in care provided by a domestic worker versus a family member in the performance of activities of daily living (ADL); (b) socio-demographic correlates of care during illness; and (c) self-reported physical, functional, and psychological health status in relation to care-giver. A cross-sectional household survey was conducted among 2,487 Kuwaiti nationals aged 50 years or older. This paper focuses on persons aged 70 or more. We found that domestic workers provided care to 28 per cent of men and 58 per cent of women who needed assistance with ADL; and to 14 per cent men and 51 per cent women during illness. These respondents ranked poorer on several health indicators and reported higher depressive symptoms score than those looked after by a family member. Logistic regression indicated that care by a domestic worker was approximately seven times more likely for women than men, about 10.8 times more likely for those without co-resident children compared with those who had three or more co-resident children, and 44 per cent less likely for the poorest compared with the richest persons. It appears that reliance on domestic workers is increasing and such reliance will remain necessary in the absence of culturally acceptable alternative institutional arrangements.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Nasra Shah, Department of Community Medicine and Behavioral Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, P.O. Box 24923, Safat, 3110Kuwait. E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
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