Modelling the Supply of Informal Care to the Elderly in Mexico

Posted: 24 Jun 2007

See all articles by Mariana Lopez-Ortega

Mariana Lopez-Ortega

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Date Written: June 2007



Informal care is a common form of long-term care for older adults and can act as a substitute for or complement to formal care. It has been described as a means of preventing or decreasing medical expenditures and further illnesses, but also it may increase participation and use of services.

In Mexico, the absence of policies supporting caring activities has left informal caregivers, mostly women, to take the main responsibility in the provision of household care. In 2000, the National Population Council estimated that 73% of the Mexican population aged 60+ lived with their children or other close relatives. Nevertheless, changes in fertility rates, rural-urban and international migration, women's increasing labour participation among other factors, have changed family size and composition and may pose future challenges to the availability of household care and support.


The primary objective of this paper is to analyse the determinants of the supply of informal care provided for the elderly in Mexico. This forms part of a research project on the specific characteristics of the elderly population in Mexico and their needs regarding the provision of social and health care services in the next decades.

Methods and Data

The estimation is based on data from the Mexican Health and Ageing Survey (MHAS) 2001, 2003 which is a prospective panel study that included 15,230 respondents, and has national representation of the 13 million (non-institutionalised) Mexicans born prior to 1951. The variables included are: age, sex, education level, marital status, individual income, health status indicator, number of children, household type.

Initial Results

Being male and living with a partner diminishes the odds of receiving help with activities of daily living by 32.6% and 28% respectively. Place of residence was also significant showing that living in a more urban locality increases the odds of receiving care by 43%. As expected, as age increases, the odds of receiving help increase with a largely significant effect for the eldest age. No consistent impact across the different education levels can be observed. Finally, the probability of receiving care increases as self-perception goes from fair to poor compared to those who stated good health.


The analysis shows the relevance of social and health indicators in determining the receipt of help with activities of daily living by the elderly in Mexico. Gender, living with a partner and the size of locality of residence are among the most relevant variables. Relevant gender differences in having received help suggests a need for a more in-depth study in order to determine if these differences are being influenced by individual characteristics only or if household characteristics and composition are also a relevant factor. Given that living with a partner was another important factor influencing the probability of receiving help, changes in household composition which may increase the number of elderly living alone, should be a cause of attention of different institutions. This could be especially true in rural areas where migration is high.

Further analysis including additional health and disability indicators could be very useful in explaining these determinants.

Keywords: Informal Care estimation, Elderly, caregivers

JEL Classification: C34, D10, J14

Suggested Citation

Lopez-Ortega, Mariana, Modelling the Supply of Informal Care to the Elderly in Mexico (June 2007). iHEA 2007 6th World Congress: Explorations in Health Economics Paper, Available at SSRN:

Mariana Lopez-Ortega (Contact Author)

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine ( email )

Keppel Street
London, WC1E 7HT
United Kingdom

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