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2016 Conference Presentation

Economics EU

6 September 2016

Elderly care and the value of sharing economy. What can we learn and bring to the care sector from sharing economy initiatives

Giovanni Fosti, CeRGAS, Bocconi University, Italy


Objective: Sharing economy is becoming a worldwide issue. The transition towards collaborative economy is investing many sectors and many targets groups. The sharing perspective can be easily applied to welfare initiatives, where the concepts of giving and sharing are innate and go hands in hands with caring. The public sector is becoming aware of the potential of the sharing economy (i.e. in the UK, Wosskow, 2014), both for its economic development force and social impact. Could elderly care and long term care benefit from this perspective? Some attempts have been made about it (Ranchordás, 2015) but no systematization has been provided yet. In sharing economy services, elderly people can act as both end users and givers (sharers). At the same time, shared services for the elderly can be oriented towards care initiatives or, more broadly, towards social inclusions or active ageing activities. Many bottom up solutions are emerging around Europe (Wagner et al., 2015) and a growing attention is needed to evaluate its possible contribution to answer needs and provide innovative solutions (also with an impact on future financial sustainability). Our work offers two main contributions: first we try to systematize how the sharing economy model can be applied to long term care and which may be its support in innovate the sector; second we sketch some good examples of sharing economy initiatives used by and for the elderly.

Data and methods: Going through a review of the existing evidences about sharing economy, we provide a general framework to translate the main concepts in the long term care sector. This is helpful to highlight strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats and to sketch the possible contribution in the LTC sector. We use our framework to map some existing experiences of collaborative services for the elderly around Europe. We collect data and information through official reports, websites and secondary sources, since poor research has been done since today on these topics.

Results: The existing experiences show that sharing economy services won’t substitute traditional care services but they can contribute to active ageing efforts and supportive care services.

Policy implications: Sharing economy is a good possibility to promote innovation in the LTC sector and, more broadly, in the welfare sector. Sharing economy, of course, is not the way to solve welfare issues that western countries are facing today, but it can help to promote a more inclusive society and to provide welfare services to a broader group of citizens.

[1] Wosskow, D. (2014). Unlocking the sharing economy. An independent review. Report to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. BIS/14/1227.

[2] Ranchordás, S. (2015). Does Sharing Mean Caring: Regulating Innovation in the Sharing Economy. Minn. JL Sci. & Tech., 16, 413.

[3] Wagner, T., Kuhndt, M., Lagomarsino, J. and Mattar, H. (2015). Listening to Sharing Economy Initiatives. Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production


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