Care in times of COVID-19: The impact of the pandemic on informal caregiving in Austria

AutorInnen
Rodrigues, R., Simmons, C., Schmidt, A. E., & Steiber, N.
Informationen der Publikation (z.B. Journal, Seitenzahl, Verlag, etc.)
European Journal of Ageing, 1-11.

Abstract

Much attention has been paid to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on long-term care but the impact on informal caregivers has remained speculative. In Austria, like in other European countries, informal care is carried out overwhelmingly by (non-cohabiting) relatives. Limited care services available during the pandemic, social-distancing, increased unemployment and competing care needs within households (e.g. due to school closures) may have changed the prevalence and intensity of informal caregiving. Moreover, these changes may have increased the psychological strain experienced by caregivers. Focusing on Austria, this study aims to empirically analyse the following research questions: how have the prevalence and intensity of informal care changed due to the pandemic? How has the psychological well-being of informal caregivers been affected? We use a pre- and post-onset of the pandemic research design based on a representative survey carried out in Austria in June 2020 (N = 2000) in combination with comparable 2015 data from the European Social Survey. Findings suggest that neither prevalence nor intensity of informal care changed significantly due to the pandemic. However, the psychological well-being gap between carers and non-carers increased with the start of the pandemic, especially among men. Findings are discussed in relation to the policy measures implemented and possible policy implications for the future.