Eldercare policies in Scandinavia between 1993 and 2014: increased facilitation of family caregiving?
Keywords:work–family facilitation, eldercare, ageing population, Nordic model, welfare mix, informal care
This article asks whether legal rights provided through national legislation on services provision in Scandinavia have become, over time, more accommodating to the role of family caregiving to elderly relatives. The study is based on a comparison and analysis of changes in legislation between 1993 and 2014 in the three Scandinavian countries. It is limited to legislation on the right to eldercare services and on work-family facilitating policies in relation to the provision of care to an elderly relative. Work-family facilitating policies are those policies that enable the combining of employment in the formal economy with caring for family members without large prohibitive costs for the caregiver. The main findings in this article are that the Scandinavian countries strengthened the legal right to public care services between 1993 and 2014, but that there are few, if any, truly work-family facilitating policies. The existing schemes do not facilitate a combination of employment and care, but rather force the family caregiver to choose between them. The dilemma is whether to continue passively with a high, but declining, level of public service provision of eldercare, leaving unmet care needs to unpaid family carers, or to introduce work-family facilitating policies enabling remunerated family care in addition to extensive public services provision.
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