9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN01 Ageing in Europe

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 The Influence of Family Structures on Providing Informal Care Building II, C5.06

A comparative analysis of long-term care for older people in Europe

Against the backdrop of an ageing population, shifting health conditions and living arrangements of older people, long-term care has become an important issue to be address by social protection and health systems in Europe. Yet, statistical information on basic indicators, such as public expenditure, share of old-age benefiting from formal long-term care and their characteristics are either lacking or present a contradictory picture, as it is the case of EUROSTAT and OECD figures. Mandated by the UNECE and Member Countries, the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research has been conducting empirical research that has sought to bridge this glaring hole of statistical data, complementing it with qualitative information on the main features of long-term systems in Europe. The present paper discusses results for on-going empirical research by the authors that provides new insights into long-term care for older people in Europe from a comparative perspective.

It?s seems evident that there is no single ?European? model of long-term care, but rather marked national differences in core dimensions of long-term care. Drawing on the unique dataset assembled, we are able to highlight how different policies impact formal care and their interaction with informal care, resulting in large differences of spending levels in Europe. Figures on the cost of institutional care in several countries raise questions about the affordability and accessibility of care for old-age people. The targeting and generosity of public resources, namely cash benefits, points to an apparent trade-off between generosity in the benefit amount provided and the number of those benefiting from it. In fact, particular attention is devoted on how the characteristics of cash benefits recently introduced in some countries can impact care provided within the family, or the creation of informal markets of care. This is complemented by an overview on the gender dimension in some core variables, such as on beneficiaries.