Informal Caregiving for the Elderly in Europe. How Much Do Work and Culture Matter?

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW1.2.03 (Tower One)
Francesca Bettio, University of Siena, Siena, Italy
Valentina Zigante, PSSRU, London, United Kingdom; London School of Economics and Political Sciences, London, United Kingdom
Empirical research on the relationship between paid employment and unpaid elderly care is growing in answer to the need to address the implications of an ageing society.  However, the precise relationship between hours in employment and hours of unpaid care of one’s elderly is still a matter of investigation and debate, especially in Europe, where differences among countries can be large and where suitable data are less readily available.

In this paper we focus on the determinants of unpaid hours of eldercare from a comparative European perspective using data from the second and the third waves of the SHARE survey (2004 and 2006). We pursue two main objectives. First, we model the relationship between (individual) hours in employment and hours of elderly care so as to simultaneously tackle the two main problems that empirical estimations face, namely self-selection into employment or caring status, and endogeneity of choice of caring and working time.  Many previous studies address only one of these problems (or none) and hence we expect to bring some improvement in the precision and reliability of the estimates. Second, we investigate the importance of cultural beliefs for the intensity of informal care giving. Our main empirical model is an extended version of the Wolf and Soldo (1994) two stage model, with the first stage estimating the reduced form probability to provide care while the second stage estimates actual hours of care using the double selection framework proposed by Tunali (1986). We extend the model to estimating hours of work as well as hours of care.  

We exploit the self-administered questionnaires that the SHARE survey submitted in 2004 to explore different specifications of cultural beliefs. Our dependent variables are hours of work and hours of care provided outside the family. Covariates of interest are traditional cultural beliefs about family roles for which we consider two competing specifications. The first specification uses ordinal principal component analysis and reported views about care responsibility, to construct an index of ‘traditionalism’ concerning family roles. The second specification uses individual religion and religion intensity as proxy of traditional cultural beliefs).  The main control variables include country dummies, the presence of brothers and sisters, parents’ health, family wealth, individual income from rent and political views.


We find that while there is a strong negative relationship between the probability of being employed and that of providing informal care, while the effect of hours of care on hours of work is not statistically significant.  We also find that religious intensity rather than type of religion affects hours of work but not hours of care.