Who cares? Familial care norms and caregiver well-being in Europe

Leah Ruppanner, University of Melbourne
Georgiana Bostean, Chapman University

This paper analyzes a multi-national sample to assess self-reported well-being of individuals who provide dependent care. We pair individual-level data from the 2004 European Social Survey (ESS) for respondents in 22 nations (n=42,523) with country-level measures of attitudinal support for familial caregiving from the Eurobarometer. Using multi-level modeling, we examine the association between country-level familial attitudes and caregiver well-being, comparing effects by gender. We find that: (1) caregiving is differentially associated with well-being for men and women; (2) women in countries with support for familial caregiving report worse well-being than men; (3) in countries with attitudinal support for familial caregiving, female caregivers report worse well-being than male caregivers. Our results demonstrate that caregivers, notably female caregivers, are significantly disadvantaged in well-being. Moreover, country-level familial care norms impact caregiver well-being beyond individual characteristics; caregivers in country with greater support for familial care report worse well-being. These findings are important in the context of Europe’s shifting population structure and political climate emphasizing cuts to caregiving benefits.

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Presented in Session 2: Health, well-being and morbidity