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Spousal care-giving arrangements in Europe. The role of gender, socio-economic status and the welfare state

  • Ariane Bertogg (a1) and Susanne Strauss (a1)

Spouses (and partners) are the most important source of care in old age. Informal care for frail spouses is provided by both sexes and across all socio-economic backgrounds and welfare policy contexts. There are, however, interesting differences as to whether spouses care alone, receive informal support from other family members or formal support from professional helpers, or outsource the care of their spouse completely. The present article contributes to the literature by differentiating between solo spousal care-giving and shared or outsourced care-giving arrangements, as well as between formal and informal care support. Moreover, we show how care-giving arrangements vary with gender, socio-economic status and welfare policy. Adding to previous research, we compare 17 countries and their expenditures on two elder-care schemes: Cash-for-Care and Care-in-Kind. The empirical analyses draw on the most recent wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) data from 2015. Our results show that men have a higher propensity to share care-giving than women, albeit only with informal supporters. As expected, welfare policy plays a role insofar as higher expenditure on Cash-for-Care schemes encourage informally outsourced care-giving arrangements, whereas Care-in-Kind reduce the likelihood for informally shared or outsourced care-giving arrangements. Moreover, the influence of these welfare policy measures differs between individuals of different socio-economic status but not between men and women.

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Supplementary materials

Bertogg and Strauss supplementary material
Appendix Tables A1-A3 and Appendix Figures A1-A3

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