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Trends in the informal and formal home-care use of older adults in the Netherlands between 1992 and 2012



This study investigates trends in, and the interdependence of, the use of informal and formal home care of community-dwelling older people over the last two decades in the context of governmental reform of long-term care services and modernisation of informal relationships. Seven observations of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam covering the time span between 1992 and 2012 were analysed using multi-level logistic regression analysis. The sample entailed 9,585 observations from 3,574 respondents, aged between 65 and 85 years and living independently at each time of measurement. Measures included formal and informal care use, health, physical and cognitive limitations, socio-demographics, partner status, social network, privately paid help and sense of mastery. Results showed that between 1992 and 2012, formal home-care use increased slightly while there was a large decrease in the use of informal care. Multivariate multi-level logistic regression analyses showed a substitution effect between formal and informal care use which decreased over time. Analyses also showed improved cognitive functioning, increased partner availability and social network size, as well as increased use of privately paid care over time. Nevertheless, these positive trends did not explain the large decrease in informal care use. The results regarding informal care use suggest a societal trend of weakened informal solidarity, reflecting increased individualisation and increased availability of formal home care. The decreased substitution effect suggests that, in agreement with current reforms of long-term care, complementary or supplementary forms of care use may be more common in the near future.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Joukje Swinkels, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, de Boelelaan 1081, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:


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Trends in the informal and formal home-care use of older adults in the Netherlands between 1992 and 2012



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