Informal caregivers unpaid work undertaken make contribution to the European economy between 20.1 and 36.8% of European GDP.
Providing care to a family member has also other costs: - Lost working days, - Foregone career opportunities, - Increased household expenditures for heating, medication, medical aids and transport, - Costs related to the mental health of an informal carer.
OECD research demonstrates that informal carers are less likely to be employed. Providing personal care for a loved one can be a demanding task that is incompatible with a full-time job or any type of paid employment. 50% of informal carers are more likely than non-carers to be homemakers.
The high economic value to informal caregiving would be difficult to fund otherwise. It would also be difficult to find, train and pay for enough formal caregivers to supply the labour needed.
It is important to support informal caregivers needs to ensure their workability, well-being, and productivity.
The family care “workforce” is anywhere from double the size (such as in Denmark) to ten times the size (Canada, the Netherlands) of the formal-care workforce. Building innovative programmes and initiatives to support informal caregivers will be crucial to the stability of European healthcare systems, the economy, and well-being for citizens.
Source: Help Wanted? Providing and Paying for Long-Term Care, OECD 2011, Chapter 1, P.44.