Grey Markets for elder care: Preconditions and ambivalences
Sociology University Trier Trier, Germany
In ageing European societies with a growing demand for care services for the elderly a new development can be observed since some years: "Grey care markets" are emerging. On the one hand elderly people in need of care and their families demand (grey) care services, enabled by the introduction of payment for care that many European countries introduced and the new aim of creating a customer, choosing own care arrangements. On the other hand migrants, usually women, offer their care services to a lower prize than care can be bought on national formal labour markets, enabled by open frontiers in Europe. Usually the quality problems of "cheap care" and the problems with labour regulation are discussed. But my contribution will discuss grey care markets under the perspective of different path in a service economy. It will analyse the interplay between the options and strategies of families resp. elder people in need of care on the one hand and the institutional frame mainly set by social policies. It conceives grey care markets as unintended result of open borders, and wage gaps between countries. Elderly people in need of care and their families are actors, that partly undergo the original aims of care policies - to set incentives for informal care networks - and transform cash for care in their sense. They act like economic actors, that use comparative cost advantages of the migrants and the resources, they receive by the welfare state. Grey care markets especially emerge in countries with a strong cultural norm of family responsibility for elder care, where the public service sector is weak and where the intermediary sector is strong. The paper will discuss grey care markets on the background of differing path into service economy as Iversen/Crusack or Esping-Andersen described them. The paper thus contributes to the issue "New markets in old societies", mentioned in the call for papers, and shows economic behaviour of private households, leading to transnational care.