Trade-off between formal and informal care in Spain
The remarkable growth of older population has moved long term care to the front ranks of the social policy agenda. Understanding the factors that determine the type and amount of formal care is important for predicting use in the future and developing long-term policy. In this context we jointly analyze the choice of care (formal, informal, both together or none) as well as the number of hours of care received. Given that the number of hours of care is not independent of the type of care received, we estimate, for the first time in this area of research, a sample selection model with the particularity that the first step is a multinomial logit model. With regard to the debate about complementarity or substitutability between formal and informal care, our results indicate that formal care acts as a reinforcement of the family care in certain cases: for very old care receivers, in those cases in which the individual has multiple disabilities, when many care hours are provided, and in case of mental illness and/or dementia. There exist substantial differences in long term care addressed to younger and older dependent people and dependent women are in risk of becoming more vulnerable to the shortage of informal caregivers in the future. Finally, we have documented that there are great disparities in the availability of public social care across regions.
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