Facing rapidly ageing populations, many Western countries aim to stimulate informal care provision as a way to meet the growing long-term care (LTC) demand. While various studies report the impact of providing informal care on the health of caregivers, it is less clear whether and to what extent this impact differs across countries. Using propensity score matching we match caregivers to similar non-caregiving individuals using four waves of the Dutch Study on Transitions in Employment, Ability and Motivation and the UK Household Longitudinal Study. The samples consist of 8,129 Dutch and 7,186 UK respondents, among which respectively 1,711 and 1,713 individuals are identified as caregivers. We explore whether the health impact of providing informal care differs by country once similar caregivers, in terms of the intensity of provided care, are compared. In both countries we find negative mental health effects of providing informal care. While these effects slightly differ by country, the main differences arise between subgroups of caregivers. Individuals that provide more than 20 hours of informal care per week, and those who face a double burden of care and full-time employment experience the most severe negative mental health effects. These results indicate that health effects of providing informal care are mediated by the specific caregiving context, allowing policymakers to use information on this context to provide targeted aid. In addition, it suggests that previously reported differences of caregiving effects across countries could be driven by differences in the population of informal caregivers which are shaped by countries’ LTC policies.

informal care, mental health, physical health, propensity score matching, country comparison
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113562, hdl.handle.net/1765/131973
Social Science & Medicine
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM)

Bom, J.A.M, & Stockel, J. (2020). Is the grass greener on the other side? The health impact of providing informal care in the UK and the Netherlands. Social Science & Medicine. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113562