Why Do Seniors Often Chose Family Care? Elderly Care Recipients Between Care Policies and Culture.

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Birgit PFAU-EFFINGER, University of Hamburg, Germany
Christopher GRAGES, University of Hamburg, Germany
In the ‘housewife marriage’ – the dominant form of the family in most mid-20th century European societies – senior care was mainly organised as unpaid work in the private family household. In the mid-1990s, together with new long-term care legislation, many European welfare states have introduced new social rights for senior citizens with care needs to publicly funded care. However, in many welfare states, a relevant part of the seniors who are entitled to receive publicly funded care by care agencies, choose instead care by a family member. The paper aims to answer the question: How is it possible to explain why seniors in part choose family care in spite of the new options to use publicly funded care by agencies?

The theoretical framework is based on the theoretical approach of societal ‘care arrangements’ of Pfau-Effinger (1998, 2004), according to which the behaviour of people in need of care in the context of care policies can be explained with the complex and in part incoherent interaction between cultural, institutional, social and economic factors.

The paper introduces findings of an empirical study that analyses the degree to which seniors make use of their right to use public care in the context of different welfare state policies and different cultural ideals about care in the population. It analyses data from a comprehensive study of care policies and care structures in 6 European welfare states in the DFG-Projekt FAMICAP, based on document analysis, data of different waves of international surveys like SHARE and Eurobarometer, and national data sets.

The findings indicate that a traditional cultural orientation towards family care and discrepancies between the popular definition of a good quality of care in the population and the definition of good care in the concepts of care policies contribute to the explanation of the differences.