The effect of free personal care for the elderly on informal caregiving

A comprehensive analysis based on a “natural experiment”: the introduction of free personal care for the elderly that was implemented in Scotland in 2002, but not elsewhere in the UK. Under The Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act, people aged 65 and over are entitled to a flat rate payment of £145 per week and those who receive care in a nursing home receive an additional £65 per week. These funds are separate from living and housing costs and are intended specifically for personal care.

This study uses individual-level data from the British Household Panel Survey to estimate the effects of the introduction of this policy change on informal care behaviour. It finds that the introduction of the Scottish policy actually increased the probability of supplying informal care by three to five percentage points, suggesting that the two sources of care are complementary.

Sarah Karlsberg Schaffer
Office of Health Economics (OHE)