Work-Life Balance. Welfare State, Family and Caregiving in Japan and Sweden

Friday, July 18, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: 301
Oral Presentation
Ann-Britt SAND , Social Work, Stockholm University, Stockholm University, Örebro, Sweden
Els-Marie ANBÄCKEN , Human and Welfare Studies; Social Work, Linköping University, Norrköping, Sweden
Japan and Sweden share comparable situations. Both countries have a high and growing part of elderly in the population and high ambitions to handle the needs for care, even if they have different directions when it comes to organization and financing. Still the family is the main care giver for the elderly in both countries. This makes it interesting to compare and highlight the effects of care for family caregivers.

Until the early 1990´s the Japanese policy on eldercare was based on the family as the main caregiving unit. In 1989 a ten year plan for institutional and home care marked a policy shift. Though family support was added into the Japanese system, cash reimbursement to family carers was not included, a deliberate decision, when the National care insurance was implemented in 2000, to secure that municipalities would not choose to lean on family carers instead of developing formal care services.

Sweden has a long policy on elder care, in which the formal services constitute the base and family care the supplement. The economic crises, during the 1990ies led to cutbacks in the formal care and since then there is an increased focus on caregiving roles of families, and the Swedish government have supported development of carer support. Despite eldercare being a societal responsibility the share of family caregiving has increased while the economic support to next of kin has diminished.

 We are comparing results from a survey in Sweden and from secondary data in Japan on the perspective of family carers.  In Sweden women and men give help to about the same degree. However, if we look to the consequences of family caregiving; reduce working hours, stop working, taking early retirement etc, women are affected considerably more than men, which is the case in Japan as well.