The Changing Balance between Formal and Informal Old-Age Care in Spain. Results from a Mixed Microsimulation-Agent-Based Model

Daniel Devolder , Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED), UAB
Jeroen J. A. Spijker, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED), UAB
Pilar Zueras, Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) - University of Essex

All developed countries have seen life expectancy improve at old ages, accelerating the process of population ageing associated with low fertility. This change in demographic structure is increasing the demand for elderly care that is still largely provided by family, typically by spouses and adult children, despite changing family structures due to fertility reduction, rising divorce rates, as well as increasing proportions of women in the labour force. Together, these factors affect the availability of family, i.e. informal, care for old-aged people. To study the demand and supply balance of informal care and quantify the needs for formal care when there is a deficit, we have developed a mixed model that uses two complementary simulation techniques: microsimulation and agent-based-modelling (ABM). Based on nuptiality, fertility and mortality levels of cohorts born at intervals of 10 years, between 1908 and 1968, the model simulates the lifecycle of individuals and their close relatives until death. The ABM then determines the amount of time available or needed for caring for family members over their lifecycle, starting at age 50. Surprisingly, results show that family care deficit was higher in cohorts born early- to mid-20th century due to the higher mortality and thus greater impact of widowhood. However, for future generations of older people we foresee that persistent below replacement fertility and, paradoxically, the prolongation of couples’ lifespan will augment the demand for formal care as there will be more couples with both members disabled but without children to take care of them

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 Presented in Session 55. Caregiving