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The inter-relationship between formal and informal care: a study in France and Israel



This study examined whether formal care services delivered to frail older people's homes in France and Israel substitute for or complement informal support. The two countries have comparable family welfare systems but many historical, cultural and religious differences. Data for the respondents aged 75 or more years at the first wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) were analysed. Regressions were examined of three patterns of care from outside the household: informal support only, formal support only and both formal and informal care, with the predictor variables including whether informal help was provided by a family member living in the household. The results revealed that about one-half of the respondents received no help at all (France 51%, Israel 55%), about one-tenth received care from a household member (France 8%, Israel 10%), and one-third were helped by informal carers from outside the household (France 34%, Israel 33%). More French respondents (35%) received formal care services at home than Israelis (27%). Most predictors of the care patterns were similar in the two countries. The analysis showed that complementarity is a common outcome of the co-existence of formal and informal care, and that mixed provision occurs more frequently in situations of greater need. It is also shown that spouse care-givers had less formal home-care supports than either co-resident children or other family care-givers. Even so, spouses, children and other family care-givers all had considerable support from formal home-delivered care.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Howard Litwin, Israel Gerontological Data Center, Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91905-IL, Israel. Email:


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