Voluntary Care Giving in the Life Course of Women in Eastern and Western Germany

Compulsory German long-term care insurance provides financial support for voluntary home care. A cash benefit is paid to persons who are in need of long-term care and wish to stay at home. These patients are supposed to hand the cash benefit over to the person undertaking the long-term care. Several restrictions apply to the take-up of this cash benefit, most of which are linked to the proof of need of long-term care and an adequate setting for home care including one or more persons willing to give care voluntarily. The caregiver is supposed to be a layperson who is not in gainful employment elsewhere for more than 30 hours a week and therefore capable of providing at least half-time care work. This condition poses the question to what extent caregivers, in the overwhelming majority women, are able to combine employment and voluntary care for a family member.

The data of the German Pension Insurance can answer the question whether and to what extent women combine employment and home care, because compulsory long-term care insurance pays contributions to the pension fund for voluntary caregivers. The amount is graduated according to the hours of care needed, the medical assessment and the severity of the case. Therefore phases of care-giving are included as compulsorily insured periods in the pension funds records, thereby contributing to the old-age pensions of caregivers. Periods of care-giving are embedded in the personal history of employment and the upbringing of children in the pension funds records.

The paper addresses the following question: Is there a specific life-course pattern of women undertaking care or are women from all professional backgrounds willing to give up or reduce gainful employment in order to undertake voluntary home care?

We have used life-course data of first-time pensioners of the year 2004 (VVL 2004) for elderly cohorts and a sample from the insured population to analyse a younger cohort (VSKT 2005).


Michael Stegmann; Tatjana Mika

Erschienen in

Doblhammer, Gabriele; Scholz, Rembrandt (Hg.): "Ageing, Care Need and Quality of Life", S. 222-241, Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag


Pflege; Frauen; Ostdeutschland; Westdeutschland


Letzte Änderung: 18.5.2010