Care Inequalities in Ageing Societies. The Unequal Distribution of Informal Support in Europe (and Its Consequences)

Marco Albertini , Università di Bologna
Riccardo Prandini, University of Bologna

In most European countries, the growing need for long term care services has not been matched by an equal increase in policies addressing these needs. The possibility (or not) of receiving informal care in later life will be an increasingly relevant dimension along which inequalities in wellbeing in later life are structured. Previous studies have found that the largest part of informal support is provided to/received from the member of the nuclear family. Adopting the instruments and analytical approach typically utilized in the studies of income inequalities the present contribution aims at: first, shedding light on the level of inequality of the distribution care support (given and received) characterising different European societies, focusing in particular on ageing population; second, providing evidence of the negative association between the lack of reciprocity in social support exchange and elderly individuals’ wellbeing – and thus considering the individual balance of hours of support given and received; third, assessing which are the main factors associated with the risk that an elderly person is in the situation of receiving large amounts of informal social support, both from kin and non-kin members, without being able to reciprocate. The analyses are based on the first two waves of the SHARE. The results show, among other findings, that elderly individual’s wellbeing depends significantly on being involved in reciprocal support exchanges and that the reelvance of this mechanism goes well beyond the institutional and welfare context.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 53. Inequalities in Care Received and Provided