2018 Conference Presentation
Background: Unlike with child care, care leave models in long-term care have been introduced relatively recently in most developed countries. Care leaves present informal caregivers with the possibility to leave work in order to care for a frail, sick or disabled family member. In fact, the academic literature on reconciliation of paid work and unpaid care has focused on parents of younger children, and attempts for a typology of care leave models for long-term care in different welfare states are found wanting.
Objectives: This paper aims to (i) evaluate the role of care leaves as a social policy measure in five European welfare states (Austria, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands), and Canada, and (ii) place care leaves within existing long-term care typologies in developed welfare states. The analysis covers the following analytical dimensions: labour market attachment, universal coverage, legal security, flexibility, income security, social security and gender equality. An analysis of cost-effectiveness and take-up complement the analysis. The theoretical-conceptual framework for analysis further distinguishes between inputs (e.g. public resources), output (e.g. take-up of the measure) and outcomes (e.g. labour market participation of caregivers).
Methods: A two-step approach is used, applying a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods. In the first step, a systematic review of the academic literature, grey literature and legal documents on care leaves was carried out for each country, together with 2-3 expert interviews over the phone or in person per country in 2016. Information on cost estimates and take-up was collected via national statistical offices and written evaluations. In the second step, a systematic review of the academic literature on long-term care welfare state typologies was carried out identifying indicators that highlight differences across long-term care regimes (e.g. share of older people using long-term care services; public expenditure on long-term care; share of people providing informal care). Results from both steps are brought together in a qualitative analysis using so-called magic rectangles which provide a graphic representation of care leave models and thus facilitate the analysis of commonalities and differences across countries.
Results: The results show that care leave models represent a distinct form of social policy support, and may only partly be classified along existing welfare typologies in long-term care. Next to indicators referring to the long-term care system in a narrow sense, other indicators like female labour market participation, the share of men working part-time and general attitudes towards care and support are likely to influence the design and take-up of care leave models in significant ways.
Conclusion: We conclude that the role of care leave models in different long-term care regimes deserves further attention, as they are likely to represent an important but under-researched aspect of comparative welfare state research.