Do Income Supplemental Programs for Older Adults' Help Reduce Primary Caregiver Burden?

Evidence from Mexico

Published in: Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, Volume 34, pages 385–402 (2019). doi: 10.1007/s10823-019-09374-8

Posted on RAND.org on December 15, 2020

by Emma Aguila, Mariana López-Ortega, Sean Angst

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In countries such as Mexico without formal public long-term care policies, informal care becomes the main source of support for older adults. Alternative social programs, such as supplemental income programs, for older adults could alleviate caregiver burden, especially if supplemental income were to be used for paid care or to compensate non-paid family caregivers. This work is the first to analyze the effects of a supplemental income program for older adults on primary caregiver burden. To identify how such a program might affect caregiver burden, we analyze rich panel data on 433 adults 70 years and older in two communities, one receiving a supplemental income program and the other not, in Yucatan, Mexico. Data were collected in 2008 and 2009 among treatment and control groups before and 6 months after program introduction. We employ a difference-in-differences approach. In our sample, most care is provided by non-paid female caregivers. We find that individuals in both the treatment and control groups received fewer hours of care over time. The decrease was lower for older adults who received the supplemental income, but the difference with those who did not was not statistically significant. We also observe few changes on caregiving burden; even after program introduction, more than 98% of caregivers remained unpaid and the same primary caregiver remained. Altogether, our work suggests supplemental income programs have negligible effects on caregiving, making evident the urgent need for other strategies to support non-paid caregivers who bear most of the burden for old-age care in Mexico.

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