Characteristics of and living arrangements amongst informal carers at the 2011 and 2001 Censuses: stability, change and transition

Maria Evandrou, James Robards, Athina Vlachantoni and Jane Falkingham, University of Southampton and Julie Jeffries and Angele Storey, Office for National Statistics

(Project no. 401007)

The overall aim of the beta test project is to examine the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of informal carers in the 2011 Census, with reference to their characteristics in the 2001 Census. The project will be conducted by a joint team from the ESRC Centre for Population Change / EPSRC Care Life Cycle Programme / Centre for Research on Ageing at the University of Southampton and members of the demographic analysis unit within the Population Statistics Division of ONS. Understanding the characteristics of informal carers in the UK is critical, as they continue to contribute to the supply of social care, and changes in the composition of the carers’ population will have a direct impact on the future design of social care and the distribution of its financial cost. In addition, current demographic changes may affect both the supply of and demand for social care, for example improving life expectancy for men at older ages may increase the amount of spousal care provided by men, while population ageing is projected to place greater pressure on local governments to provide social care for older people.

The inclusion of 2011 census data in the ONS Longitudinal Study (LS) offers the opportunity to follow up on questions first asked at the 2001 census (Blackwell et al., 2005) including those on self-rated health and informal care provision. The analysis of 2001 census data identified the scale of informal caring at both younger and older ages (Doran et al., 2003; Dahlberg et al., 2007; Evandrou, 2005) and that provision of informal caring is positively related to need for care (Hanratty et al., 2007; Shaw and Dorling, 2004). Research using the ONS LS has investigated self-reported health amongst informal cares and individuals without caring responsibilities (Young et al., 2005). Research by Dini (2010) has examined spousal economic inactivity and the potential impact on labour market withdrawal. While other research using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing) has found that the prevalence of economic activity decreased as the intensity or number of hours of care provision rose (Vlachantoni, 2010). Research examining associations between employment history, marital status and unpaid care provision has stressed a gender dimension in care provision interacting with marital status and employment (Young and Grundy, 2008).

The project will consist of two Work Packages: (i) Comparison of the profile of informal carers from the 2011 Census to the 2001 Census; and (ii) The study of transitions in-and-out of informal care between 2001 and 2011.


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