Date of Thesis

2011

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Amy Wolaver

Abstract

The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of informal care support networks on the health status, life satisfaction, happiness and anxiety of elderly individuals in Argentina and Cuba. Recent economic changes, demographic changes, the structure of families and changes in women?s labor participation have affected the availability of informal care. Additionally, the growing number of elderly as a percentage of total population has significant implications for both formal and informal care in Argentina and Cuba. Methods: The SABE - Survey on Health, Well-Being, and Aging in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2000 was used as the data source. The survey has a sample of 10,656 individuals aged 60 years and older residing in private households occupied by permanent dwellers in 7 cities in the Latin American and Caribbean region. My study will focus on the Buenos Aires and Havana samples in which there were 1043 individuals and 1905 individuals respectively. General sampling design was used to establish comparability between countries. Individuals requiring assistance are surveyed on their source of help and the relative impact of informal versus paid help is measured for this group. Other measures of social support (number of living children, companionship and number of individuals living in the same dwelling) are used to measure networks for the full sample. Multivariate probit regression analyses were run separately for Cuba and for Argentina to evaluate the marginal impacts of the types of social support on health status, life satisfaction, happiness and anxiety. Results: For Argentina, almost all of the family help variables positively impact good health. Getting help from most other members of the family negatively impacts satisfaction with life. Happiness is affected differently by each of the family help variables but community support increases the likelihood of being happy. Although none of the family or community help variables show statistical significance, most negatively affect anxiety levels. In Cuba, all of the social support variables have a positive marginal impact on the health status of the elderly. In this case, some of the family and community help variables have a negative marginal impact on life satisfaction; however, it appears that having those closest to the elderly, children, spouse, or other family, positively impacts life satisfaction. Most of the support variables negatively impact happiness. Receiving help from a child, spouse or parent is associated with a marginal increase in anxiety, whereas receiving help from a grandchild, another family member or a friend actually reduces anxiety. Discussion: The study highlights the necessity for enhancing the coordination of various care networks in order to provide adequate care and reduce the burdens of old age on the individual, family and society and the need for consistent support for the caregivers. More qualitative work should be done to identify how support is given and what comprises the support. The constant change and advancement of the world, and the growth of the Latin American and Caribbean region, suggests that more updates studies need to be done.

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Economics Commons

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