The effect of family care on the self-reported health of care-givers and -receivers: A New Delhi case study

Dolly Kumari, of the International Institute for Population Sciences, India, examined how care of the elderly can affect the health of both care-giver and receiver.

Dolly Kumari

Dolly Kumari


In contexts where elderly care is shouldered by family members, the health outcomes of givers and receivers of elder care may be affected by family relationships, type of care activity, and perception of care. This study focuses on the associations of these aspects with self-perceived health and difficulties in the daily activities of both care-givers and care-receivers, accounting for possible discrepancies in reporting care activities between the two groups. This approach is unique, as most existing studies focus on the health of either care-givers or care-receivers.


The present study is based on primary data collected between November 2014 and January 2015 from care-receivers aged 65 and above and their (co-resident) care-giver aged 18-60 years in West Delhi, a district of New Delhi, India. Dependent variables are self-reported health and difficulty in doing daily household activities of both care-givers and care-receivers. Individual demographic and social network-related characteristics, as well as household-related characteristics, are the independent variables. The type of care activity includes household care, personal care, social and emotional care, and financial care. Descriptive statistics and logistic regressions were used to examine the association between demographic, household, and social network characteristics, and self-reported health and difficulties in household activity on the other.


Findings show that the discrepancy in reporting about care-giving and -receiving activity is significantly positively associated with older people’s health outcomes; for the care-giver it is mostly positive except for personal care. Among male care-receivers, education, working status, wealth, and conversation on private matters with relatives and close friends are found to be important predictors of self-reported health for elderly men. Wealth and relationship with care-giver are the main predictors for female care-receivers’ self-reported health. Age and wealth are the two most important predictors of difficulties in daily activities for both male and female care-receivers.

Among care-givers, wealth and the relationship with the care-receiver are found to be the most important predictors of bad health (both self-reported and difficulties in daily activities). Middle-aged care-givers aged 36-50 years are found to have five times more difficulty in carrying out daily activities than young care-givers if they are caring for a man rather than for a women, while care-givers above the age of 50 are also reported as having difficulty in daily activity, but it is not statistically significant.


Undoubtedly in a setting where universal health care is not available, wealth is a key predictor of health outcomes of both care-receivers and care-givers. This study adds to the literature by showing that who the older persons receive care from, and who the care-givers give care to, also matter for health. There are substantial gender differences: health outcomes of female care-receivers depend on who they receive care from. Likewise, caring for a man seems to exacerbate the ill health of care-givers to a greater extent than caring for a woman. Traditional gender role and gender inequality may explain such discrepancies between male and female care-receivers and -givers.


Valeria Bordone and Raya Muttarak, World Population Program, IIASA


Dolly Kumari, of the International Institute for Population Sciences, India, is a citizen of India. She was funded by the IIASA Indian National Member Organization and worked in the World Population Program during the YSSP.

Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.

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Last edited: 02 February 2016

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