Gender, widowhood, living arrangements and inequalities in access to care

In a new FutureGEN study, published in the European Journal of Ageing, we analyse associations between marital status, living arrangements and use of home and community-based care among older women and men. Specifically, we look at how transitions into widowhood and living alone influence care use in later life and if these patterns are gendered.

Our results show that

  • widowhood and living alone are strong predictors of long-term care use for older women and men alike.
  • While widowhood is associated with a higher probability of care use for both sexes, the transition from marriage to widowhood increases the probability of receiving care only for older women.
  • In addition, we find marked gender differences in the relationship between socio-economic status and the probability of receiving care.
  • Finally, gendered patterns of these associations also tend to vary across European care regimes.

Our findings highlight the need for improved care targeting towards individuals with limited informal care and socio-economic resources paying particular attention to the role of gender and key life transitions such as widowhood and changes in living arrangements. The article is based on research of the FutureGEN project.

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