Social support and caregiver health: should other people care?
Presented by Sandrine Juin (Ined, UPEC) ; Discussant: Jérôme Wittwer (Université de Bordeaux, ISPED)
In the current context of an aging population, it is important to study informal caregivers who are the main providers of support for dependent elderly people. This work aims to estimate from French data how social support (informal support received from the family/social network and formal home care) affects the depreciation of caregivers’ health capital. Indeed, while the health consequences of providing informal care are well established in the economic literature, less is known concerning the mediating effect of social support.
A sample of 769 non-coresiding caregivers from the French Disability and Health Survey (2008-2009) is used to estimate the effect of social support on caregivers’ general and mental health capital. I employ instrumental variables for taking into account the potential endogeneity of formal home care.
The results highlight that formal care is endogenous in both the general and the mental health models. Contrary to most of the existing studies, which do not take into account this endogeneity bias, instrumental variables estimations show that a one-unit increase in formal care hours significantly decreases the probability of depreciation of caregivers’ general and mental health by, respectively, 1.6% and 2.1%. The effect of informal support depends more on its perceived quality than on its quantity. While the number of informal caregivers has no effect, there is a lower probability of depreciation of general health (-9.2 percentage points) and mental health (-9.9 percentage points) among caregivers who report that they can take breaks because the dependent elderly person receives care from other family members, friends or neighbors. This study highlights the importance of improving financial access to formal home care services and of encouraging informal support and solidarity.
Sandrine Juin est doctorante en sciences économiques dans l’unité de démographie économique de l’INED et dans le laboratoire ERUDITE de l’Université Paris-Est. Sa thèse porte sur les questions de prise en charge des personnes âgées dépendantes et sur le bien-être des aidés et des aidants familiaux.