Health Effects of Caring for and About Parents and Spouses

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2018-050/V

25 Pages Posted: 30 May 2018

See all articles by Judith Bom

Judith Bom

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Pieter Bakx

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Erik Schut

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Eddy van Doorslaer

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Institute of Health Policy and Management

Date Written: May 18, 2018

Abstract

Informal caregiving is a potentially attractive alternative to formal care but may entail health costs for the caregiver. We examine the mental and physical health impact of providing informal care and disentangle the caregiving effect – the effect of caring for someone in need – from the family effect – the effect of caring about someone in need. We account for potential endogeneity in the caregiving decision and control for previous health status using Arellano-Bond difference GMM models. We use four waves (2010-2013) of panel data from the Dutch Study on Transitions in Employment, Ability and Motivation (STREAM).

We find that caregiving harms the mental health of caregivers; this effect is mainly present for spousal caregivers. A negative health shock of a family member also has a direct negative effect on mental health, providing evidence of a family effect. These findings imply that most studies may have overestimated the negative health effects of caregiving by not accounting adequately for the family effect. As the caregiving effect differs strongly between various types of caregivers, policies to counteract this effect should specifically target subgroups of caregivers that carry the largest burden of informal caregiving.

Keywords: long-term care, informal care, caregiver effect, family effect, mental health

JEL Classification: J14, I10, J18

Suggested Citation

Bom, Judith and Bakx, Pieter and Schut, Erik and van Doorslaer, Eddy, Health Effects of Caring for and About Parents and Spouses (May 18, 2018). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2018-050/V, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3180638 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3180638

Judith Bom (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3000 DR Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland 3062PA
Netherlands

Pieter Bakx

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

Zuid-Holland
Netherlands

Erik Schut

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3000 DR Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland 3062PA
Netherlands

Eddy Van Doorslaer

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Institute of Health Policy and Management

Netherlands

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