European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 103–113 | Cite as

Fit for caring: factors associated with informal care provision by older caregivers with and without multimorbidity

  • Andrea E. Schmidt
  • Stefania Ilinca
  • Katharine Schulmann
  • Ricardo Rodrigues
  • Andrea Principi
  • Francesco Barbabella
  • Agnieszka Sowa
  • Stanislawa Golinowska
  • Dorly Deeg
  • Henrike Galenkamp
Original Investigation


Due to an increased prevalence of chronic diseases, older individuals may experience a deterioration of their health condition in older ages, limiting their capacity for social engagement and in turn their well-being in later life. Focusing on care provision to grandchildren and (older) relatives (‘informal care’) as forms of engagement, this paper aims to identify which individual characteristics may compensate for health deficits and enable individuals with multimorbidity to provide informal care. We use data from the SHARE survey (2004–2012) for individuals aged 60 years and above in 10 European countries. Logistic regression estimates for the impact of different sets of characteristics on the decision to provide care are presented separately for people with and without multimorbidity. Adapting Arber and Ginn’s resource theory, we expected that older caregivers’ resources (e.g., income or having a spouse) would facilitate informal care provision to a greater extent for people with multimorbidity compared to those without multimorbidity, but this result was not confirmed. While care provision rates are lower among individuals suffering from chronic conditions, the factors associated with caregiving for the most part do not differ significantly between the two groups. Results, however, hint at reciprocal intergenerational support patterns within families, as the very old with multimorbidity are more likely to provide care than those without multimorbidity. Also, traditional gender roles for women are likely to be weakened in the presence of health problems, as highlighted by a lack of gender differences in care provision among people with multimorbidity.


(Multi)morbidity Extra-residential care Grandchild care Older people Europe SHARE 



This paper uses data from SHARE wave 4 release 1.1.1, as of March 28th 2013 (DOI:  10.6103/SHARE.w4.111) or SHARE waves 1 and 2 release 2.6.0, as of November 29th 2013 (DOIs:  10.6103/SHARE.w1.260 and  10.6103/SHARE.w2.260) or SHARELIFE release 1.0.0, as of November 24th 2010 (DOI:  10.6103/SHARE.w3.100). The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through the 5th Framework Programme (project QLK6-CT-2001-00360 in the thematic programme Quality of Life), through the 6th Framework Programme (projects SHARE-I3, RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE, CIT5- CT-2005-028857, and SHARELIFE, CIT4-CT-2006-028812) and through the 7th Framework Programme (SHARE-PREP, No 211909, SHARE-LEAP, No 227822 and SHARE M4, No 261982). Additional funding from the U.S. National Institute on Aging (U01 AG09740-13S2, P01 AG005842, P01 AG08291, P30 AG12815, R21 AG025169, Y1-AG-4553-01, IAG BSR06-11, and OGHA 04-064) and the German Ministry of Education and Research as well as from various national sources is gratefully acknowledged (see for a full list of funding institutions).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea E. Schmidt
    • 1
  • Stefania Ilinca
    • 1
  • Katharine Schulmann
    • 1
  • Ricardo Rodrigues
    • 1
  • Andrea Principi
    • 2
  • Francesco Barbabella
    • 2
    • 3
  • Agnieszka Sowa
    • 4
  • Stanislawa Golinowska
    • 4
    • 7
  • Dorly Deeg
    • 5
  • Henrike Galenkamp
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and ResearchViennaAustria
  2. 2.National Institute of Health and Science on Ageing (INRCA)AnconaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Health and Caring SciencesLinnaeus UniversityKalmarSweden
  4. 4.Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE)WarsawPoland
  5. 5.EMGO Institute for Health and Care ResearchVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Institute of Public Health Jagiellonian UniversityKrakowPoland

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