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Informal Care Intensity and Caregiver Drug Utilization


  • Courtney Houtven


  • Michele Wilson
  • Elizabeth Clipp


Providing informal care has negative health consequences for informal caregivers. If these health consequences increase drug utilization among caregivers, estimates of health care savings from informal care—mainly realized through reductions in utilization among care recipients—should consider the increased drug costs incurred by informal caregivers. This paper evaluates whether more intensive informal caregivers have higher drug utilization than less intensive caregivers, controlling for initial health status and other factors. We find that informal care intensity is associated with higher drug consumption. An increase of 10% of total informal care per day is associated with a 0.7% increase in drugs. The small magnitudes indicate that, in this application, it is not important to consider caregiver drug utilization when quantifying the net savings to the health care system of informal care. For individual caregivers, such as those who take multiple drugs per month and/or have no drug coverage, the increase in drug utilization associated with intensive caregiving is likely to be costly. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Suggested Citation

  • Courtney Houtven & Michele Wilson & Elizabeth Clipp, 2005. "Informal Care Intensity and Caregiver Drug Utilization," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 415-433, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:reveho:v:3:y:2005:i:4:p:415-433
    DOI: 10.1007/s11150-005-4942-0

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    Cited by:

    1. Schmitz, Hendrik & Westphal, Matthias, 2013. "Short- and Medium-term Effects of Informal Care Provision on Health," Ruhr Economic Papers 426, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    2. Yoko Niimi, 2016. "The “Costs” of informal care: an analysis of the impact of elderly care on caregivers’ subjective well-being in Japan," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 779-810, December.
    3. Adriaan Kalwij & Giacomo Pasini & Mingqin Wu, 2014. "Home care for the elderly: the role of relatives, friends and neighbors," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 379-404, June.
    4. Courtney van Houtven & Edward Norton, 2006. "Economic Effects of Informal Care," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 142(V), pages 13-22.
    5. Schmitz, Hendrik & Westphal, Matthias, 2015. "Short- and medium-term effects of informal care provision on female caregivers’ health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 174-185.
    6. Schmitz, Hendrik & Stroka, Magdalena A., 2013. "Health and the double burden of full-time work and informal care provision — Evidence from administrative data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 305-322.
    7. repec:zbw:rwirep:0426 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Hendrik Schmitz & Matthias Westphal, 2013. "Short- and Medium-term Effects of Informal Care Provision on Health," Ruhr Economic Papers 0426, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    9. Bremer, Patrick & Cabrera, Esther & Leino-Kilpi, Helena & Lethin, Connie & Saks, Kai & Sutcliffe, Caroline & Soto, Maria & Zwakhalen, Sandra M.G. & Wübker, Ansgar, 2015. "Informal dementia care: Consequences for caregivers’ health and health care use in 8 European countries," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(11), pages 1459-1471.

    More about this item


    informal caregiving; drug utilization; veterans; dementia; Alzheimer’s disease; I12; I11; J22;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply


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