Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


EUROCARE: Inequalities in informal caregiving over the adult life course in Europe

JPI More Years Better Lives funded research harnessing longitudinal studies to investigate the inequalities facing young adult carers.

Young adult carer

31 January 2023


Across Europe people may be living longer, but those extra years aren't increasingly healthy and disability free. More older people than ever need some form of care, the majority of which is provided informally by families, friends, or neighbours. This pool of available carers is likely to shrink as families get smaller, break ups increase and more women work. An increasing number of young adults (and indeed adult grandchildren) are caring not only for elderly parents/grandparents, but also their own young children.

Women are more likely to be carers and to devote more time over longer periods than men. In more traditional countries that rely on a family-based model, those gender inequalities are even greater. Caring itself acts as a form of inequality, limiting access to financial and social resources.

Project aims

EUROCARE is working to better understand the inequalities faced by carers compared with non carers in employment, social participation and health and at different life stages. It's also creating a more nuanced picture of those inequalities by looking at how they affect men comapred with women, people from different ethnic backgrounds and those from wealthier and poorer backgrounds. 

Our project is also comparing the inequalities faced by carers from different European countries across their lives with a particular focus on young adult carers.

Where we are able to access relevant data, we'll be looking to see what impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on caregiving.

Working closely with the Carers Trust, we are developing a set of recommendations for best supporting carers. This will help policy makers and third sector organisations develop ways of helping informal carers to remain healthy, socially connected and financially secure. This in turn should mean more people needing care will be well looked after, where possible in their own home rather than in a more formal setting.  

Research to date

Existing evidence suggests that many of those provifding care end up having to leave their job or reduce their hours leading to reductions in salaries and pension entitlements, loss of training opportunities and career advancement. They often have poorer physical and mental health than non carers. 

This research has largely been based on a snapshot in time of older adults or has focussed on care for specific groups, such as dementia sufferers. Most research on caregiving has focused on older spouses, or older working age carers, while younger carers are often overlooked in policy and research. Our project seeks to address this shortage of evidence.


This project brings a novel lifecourse approach to understanding care, recognising that caregiving earlier in a person's life may have disproportionate longer-term consequences. We make use of existing longitudinal studies across key countries which have different approaches to caring and which together track the lives of thousands of people.

  • UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS)
  • The England and Wales Census
  • German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP)
  • English Longitidinal Study of Ageing (ELSA)
  • Spanish Time-Use Survey
  • The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)
  • Gender and Generations Survey (GGS)
  • The Norwegian Lifecourse, Ageing and Generation Study (NORLAG)

The team

United Kingdom

  • Anne McMunn
  • Rebecca Lacey
  • Giorgio Di Gessa
  • Carers Trust


  • Jeroen Spijker
  • Mariona Lozano
  • Elienda Renteria
  • Barcelona Time Use Initiative


  • Margarete E. Vollrath
  • Vegard Skirbekk
  • Ragnhild Bang Nes
  • Thomas Hansen


  • Morten Wahrendorf
  • Christian Deindl


The project will produce a range of academic journal articles and will be widely presented at international conferences. The findings will be widely shared with non academic audiences. All outputs will be listed here. 

Grant value