Informal Care

What is informal care?

Informal care refers to care for persons with disabilities or older people with care and support needs that is carried out by relatives, friends, acquaintances or neighbours, often without a contractual agreement or formal payment. The provision of informal care usually entails a pre-existing relationship between the carer and the person cared for. Carers may receive informal payments (i.e. ‘routed wages’), such as cash-for-care benefits that are passed on to them by the relatives they care for. They may also be beneficiaries of social benefits in their own right (e.g. respite care, care allowances).

Informal caregiving is often the result of financial incentives or barriers to access professional care, but it is also strongly determined by societal norms and values, as well as individual preferences and family dynamics.

Why is informal care important?

Informal care is the prevailing form of meeting the exigencies of people with care and support needs, especially those that live in their own homes. Informal care has a strong gender and socio-economic dimension attached to it, not least of all, currently most informal carers are women. It is a strong determinant of inequalities throughout the life course and it is linked to the financing of welfare states.

What we offer:

Researchers at the European Centre have a strong expertise in research and policy analysis related to informal care. We analyse how informal care impacts and is shaped by inequalities, particularly gender inequality, as well as the conciliation of work and family life, health and wellbeing of informal carers. We aim to include, where possible, the views of informal carers and those cared for in our research.

Specifically, we:

  • Employ qualitative and quantitative research methods to analyse determinants of informal care provision/use and its impact on several policy dimensions and population groups. This includes methods that address issues of endogeneity and reverse causality in employment and health outcomes for informal carers.
  • Conduct research on the distributional impact of informal care (e.g. gender inequalities), taking into consideration broader institutional and power structures.
  • Analyse policies that impact informal carers and informal caregiving, especially from a comparative perspective, across different countries.
  • Are actively engaged with organisations representing carers (e.g. Eurocarers) and develop strategies to co-produce research and policy analysis with informal carers.
  • Offer policy advice, and identify and assess potential policies to support informal carers.

Project examples

Contact persons

Selma Kadi

Selma Kadi


Cassandra Simmons