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An estimation of the value and the hidden social burden of informal care in Spain

2016 Conference Presentation

Informal care Spain

5 September 2016

An estimation of the value and the hidden social burden of informal care in Spain

Luz Maria Pena - Longobardo, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain


Background and objective: Better living conditions medical innovations and improved health insurance for the population have made life expectancy longer over the last century. However, there is no conclusive evidence on whether elderly people will live longer with good health or, on the contrary, live longer but with considerably worse health. The aim of this study was twofold. Firstly, to arrive at an approximation of the value of non-professional care provided to disabled people living within a household in Spain. Secondly, to analyse the burden borne by informal caregivers in terms of health, professional and social problems.

Methods: The Survey on Disabilities, Autonomy and Dependency carried out in 2008 was used to obtain information about disabled individuals and their informal caregivers. The total amount of informal caregiving hours provided by main caregivers in Spain in 2008 was computed. The monetary value of informal care time was obtained using three different approaches: the proxy good method, the opportunity cost method and the contingent valuation method. Additionally, statistical multivariate analyses were performed to analyse the caregivers’ burden.

Results: Total hours of informal care provided in 2008 were estimated at 4,193 million and the monetary value ranged from 23,064 to 50,158 million euros depending on the method used. The value of informal care was estimated at figures equivalent to 1.73%–4.90% of the Gross Domestic Product for that year. Furthermore, 35% of caregivers admitted to suffering from health-related problems, 62% had social/leisure problems and 48% had work-related problems. The probability of a problem arising was positively associated with the degree of dependency of the person cared for. Thus, those who cared for heavily dependents had a high probability of suffering from any type of problem.

Policy implications: Informal care represents a very high social cost regardless of the estimation method considered. A holistic approach to care of dependent people should take into account the role and needs of informal caregivers, promote their social recognition and lead to policies that enhance efficient use of formal and informal resources.