Home care for the elderly: The role of relatives, friends and neighbors

We use data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe to examine the hours of home care received by the elderly. The existing empirical literature has mostly examined informal home care from children and formal home care. We identify two additional informal home care providers, namely, relatives (other than children) and friends (including neighbors) who provide about 30 % of the hours of informal home care. Our main new empirical finding is that single elderly persons who can rely less on children—and in particular daughters—for their home care receive not only more formal care but also more care from friends and neighbors. These findings suggest that policymakers need to take into account not only home care provision from children but also home care provision from friends and neighbors to obtain accurate projections concerning the increasing costs of formal care programs due to an aging population.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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