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Revisiting the economic case for social care spending: the case of informal care


Recently, England has experienced a series of substantial reductions in public spending on social care for older people. A corresponding fall in the number of people receiving care has raised serious concerns about the growing unmet care needs and the related negative consequences: (i) on quality of life and wellbeing, (ii) on healthcare sector (directly from the people in need of care and indirectly from the informal caregivers due to a substantially increased burden of care) and (iii) pension/welfare system (due to an effect of informal caregiving on labour supply). Although the existing literature provides reliable estimates which allow for the monetisation of benefits from social care in terms of improvements in quality or life and savings to the NHS, evidence on the effect of social care on unpaid care in England is scarce.


  • Update the estimates of the effect of social care on informal care levels and hours of care use.

  • Investigate the factors that mediate this effect (e.g. the characteristics of cared for people and carers).

  • Support the economic case supporting informal care.


The main dataset for this analysis is the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), supplemented by data on formal care markets from previous research and by data on care quality from the Adult Social Care Survey. The project is using an instrumental data approach to identify the causal effects of social care on informal care, and will explore factors mediating the nature of such relationship.


Olena Nizalova (Lead), Julien Forder, Gintare Malisauskaite, Eirini Saloniki


  • Start Date: January 2019

  • End date: Secember 2020

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