The effect of an economic boom, a Law on Dependence, and an economic bust on elderly care providing strategies in Spain
Jeroen J. A. Spijker, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED), UAB
Pilar Zueras, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED), UAB
Spain has one of the most aged populations in the world due to a combination of persistent well-below replacement fertility level and high life expectancy, including at older ages. However, despite improving morbidity and mortality rates there has been a sharp increase in disabled elderly and the subsequent need for caregivers. Spain has traditionally been a country that based its care regime for the elderly on (female members of) the family, but expansion in higher education since the 1980s (particularly among women), the legalisation of divorce (1981) and an economic boom (1995-2007) contributed to rising female labour force participation rates. This led to a demand for domestic help from outside the household and family and a need for a new system of long-term care (LTC). The latter was also because of changes in family structures (fewer offspring) and living arrangements (more non-traditional households). An important step towards this was the so-called “Law on Dependency” that came into force on 1-1-2007, a law that promotes personal autonomy and attention of people who are dependent on others due to physical and/or mental limitations. However, as the world economic crisis hit Spain particularly hard since 2008 and is only now slowly starting to recover, the economic crisis strongly affected government expenditure on health care, including on the implementation of the Dependency Law. The objective of this study is therefore to analyse whether changing employment patterns and a new social protection system for dependent people that commodified personal assistance, has changed care providing strategies. We do this by comparing results on caregiver characteristics from two large Spanish disability surveys (conducted in 1999 and in 2008) and the 2012 wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe.