Pathways into Care: The Family Life and Work Careers of Informal Caregivers in Europe

Allison Geerts, University of Antwerp
Dimitri Mortelmans, University of Antwerp

Socio-demographic evolutions, such as below replacement fertility, increased longevity, and changing norms of filial responsibility have taken place in Western countries in the past 50 years that impact the potential for and provision of informal care (McNamee & Stearns, 2003; Gans & Silverstein, 2006). This is expected to result in a shrinking pool of potential caregivers, and a growing number of people and number of years that the elderly are in need of care. With these evolutions in mind, there has been an increased interest in charting the

profiles of informal caregivers. Research has found that being an informal caregiver is to some extent socially determined, as factors such as gender and employment status play a role (e.g. Leopold & Raab, 2013). This study considers to what extent long term developments across the family life and work career determine whether someone is an informal caregiver at older age in Europe. We draw from three waves of the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to study the family life and work trajectories of caregivers in 13 European countries. Preliminary results focus on the family life courses of caregivers. After identifying three distinct clusters in the data, we found that individuals with more unconventional family life courses were less likely to be caregivers at later age. Subsequent analyses indicated that this was true for men but not for women.

Presented in Poster Session 1