a1 Research Department, The Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Helsinki, Finland.
a2 Department of Health, Functional Capacity and Welfare, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.
a3 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.
a4 Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Future increases in need of old-age care warrant research on receipt of informal care among older people in different policy and cultural contexts. Separating informal care into help provided by spouse and by children may shed more light on dynamics of informal help, important in alleviating the demands on the formal sector. Using nationally representative data from England and Finland, we performed logistic regression analyses to study receipt of help from spouse and children among community-dwelling persons aged 70+ years with functional limitations. In both countries, women and those with more functional limitations had higher odds of receiving spousal and filial help. In England – but not in Finland – those receiving formal public help had lower odds of receiving spousal help than those with no formal help. Those with low education received more filial help in England, but no association was found between formal and filial help. In Finland, the effect of education was not significant but those receiving formal help had higher odds of also receiving filial help. The results suggest that in a liberal market-led state, the role of children may be to help their parents living alone and with low financial resources. In the context of a generous welfare state, children may function more as active agents bridging the gap between their parents and formal services.
(Accepted June 15 2011)
(Online publication July 27 2011)