17 Nov 2011

Determinants of the Probability of Obtaining Formal and Informal Long-Term Care in European Countries

Izabela Marcinkowska / Agnieszka Sowa

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The aim of this report is to identify patterns in the utilisation of formal and informal long-term care (LTC) across European countries and discuss possible determinants of demand for different types of care. It addresses specific research questions on the volume of different types of care and the conditions under which care is provided. The latter include demographic factors, especially population ageing, health status and the limitations caused by poor health, family settings and social networking. The analysis indicates substantial differences in the receipt of LTC across European countries, depending on traditions and social protection models, which determine both the availability of institutional care and the provision of informal care. In countries with a Scandinavian approach, where the levels of state responsibility and provision of institutional care are high, informal care is less prominent and is mostly provided on an irregular basis by caregivers outside the family. As needs for care increase, formal settings are more common. Countries in the Continental Europe group are less uniform, with a high share of individuals using formal settings of care, but also combining formal and informal care. In Mediterranean countries, the provision of informal care, including personal care, plays a much greater role than formal LTC.

Izabela Marcinkowska, PhD, is an economist at the Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE) in Warsaw and Agnieszka Sowa, PhD, is a sociologist and economist at CASE.