Thematic Panel 9- Inequalities and care needs


Nicola Brimblecombe, Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science

Lina Van Aerschot, Centre of Excellence in Research on Ageing and Care, University of Jyväskylä

Teppo Kröger, Centre of Excellence in Research on Ageing and Care, University of Jyväskylä

For older and disabled people, care needs can be met with the help of their families and other unpaid or informal carers, long-term care services and personal assistance, or not met at all. National care policies, social policy systems, and individual socio-economic resources determine whether care services are publicly provided and/or privately purchased. Informal care may be a preference, a must, or not an option at all. The ways in which care and services are organised and allocated may enhance and build equality related to care and assistance, or create further boundaries and inequalities. 

Unmet care needs may be related to unavailability of services or informal care, lack of awareness or accessibility of services, high user fees, or other barriers. Furthermore, care needs may remain unmet when help and assistance is received but they are not extensive enough, the quality is inadequate, or they are not provided at the right time. Individual care needs change over the lifecourse and unmet need and inequalities in care provision can have enduring consequences for unpaid carers and disabled and older people. Social divisions such as socio-economic background, gender, and health status are also related to disadvantaged positions regarding care. Unmet care needs have recently also been analysed using the concept of care poverty pointing out that it is a societal and political issue. 

This thematic panel calls for papers dealing with inequalities in care. We welcome especially papers that connect care inequalities to wider questions within social and public policy. The topics may be related to social inequalities among older or disabled people or between different age groups, or to unmet needs, care poverty, vulnerable positions, social divisions, inadequate care, and different mechanisms that lead to a disadvantaged position and/or difficulties in having care needs met. We also welcome papers that consider these issues over the lifecourse.

The institutional settings and transitions of care systems and care policies are also relevant to this thematic panel as well as the practices of care arrangements. How are equal rights to care enhanced – or are they? To what extent do policies and service arrangements promote equality or reinforce inequality? What is the role of informal and unpaid care in decreasing or, on the contrary, creating or maintaining inequality?