From the state to the family or to the market? Consequences of reduced residential eldercare in Sweden

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Abstract

This article analyses the changing roles of the state, family and market in providing care for older people in Sweden, in relation to Scandinavian welfare ideals of universalism and de-familisation. Since 2000 every fourth residential care bed has disappeared and the increase in homecare services has not compensated for the decline. Instead family care (defined here as help from adult children and other non-cohabiting family or friends) has increased in all social groups: help by daughters mainly among older people with shorter education and help by sons among those highly educated. Use of privately purchased services has also increased but continues to play a marginal role. Family care remains more common among older people with less education whereas privately purchased services are more common among those with higher education. This dualisation of care challenges universalism, and working-class daughters continue to be most affected by eldercare cutbacks.

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