Health Economics, Policy and Law


Does availability of informal care within the household impact hospitalisation?

France M. Weavera1 c1 and Bryce A. Weavera2

a1 SSPH+ Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

a2 Department of Mathematics, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA


This study assesses the effect of having informal support available at home on inpatient care use in Switzerland. The main contributions are to consider the availability of care regardless of its source, measured by multiple-adult living arrangements, and to examine this effect by type of inpatient care and source of potential support. A two-part model with region and time fixed effects is estimated to determine the impact of informal care availability on the likelihood of hospitalisation and length of stay, conditional on hospitalisation. The analysis is conducted on a sample of individuals aged 18+ from four waves of the Swiss Household Panel survey (2004–2007). Overall, availability of informal care has no impact on the likelihood of hospitalisation but does significantly reduce length of stay by 1.9 days. Available support has no effect on the shortest stays (up to 10 days), but has a significant impact on acute care stays up to 30 days and longer stays. Additionally, the effect does not significantly vary whether the source of informal support is a spouse only, a spouse and other adults, or other adults only. These results indicate that social changes leading to an expansion in the proportion of one-person households may increase future inpatient care use.

(Received February 25 2013)

(Revised February 25 2013)

(Accepted March 04 2013)

(Online publication April 08 2013)


c1 Correspondence to: France M. Weaver, SSPH+ Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Geneva, Bd du Pont d'Arve 40, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland. E-mail: