Altruism and Informal Care for Dementia

Rashmita Basu, Robert E Rosenman


Informal care is an important source of care for persons with dementia. The primary objective of this study is to explore the factors that affect the choice to provide informal care and test if altruistic attitudes change the mix of formal and informal care given to patients with dementia. Using the Aging Demographic and Memory Study dataset, we analyze how patient and caregiver characteristics affect the use of informal and formal healthcare services by dementia patients, focusing on the role of altruism. Assuming that the total care provided is an unobserved mix of informal and formal care, we use a latent class model to test if direct altruism increases the probability that informal care is included in the care plan. Greater patient need, as measured by limitations in the number of activities of daily living, and having three or more comorbid conditions decreased the probability of having only informal care, while needing supervision increased the probability of having only informal care. The direct altruism has a positive and significant marginal effect on increasing the probability of providing only informal care and decreasing the probability of being in the mix category of informal and formal category. Our model suggests that altruism in the form of caregivers’ pleasure from providing care increases the amount of informal care used. Although not socially inefficient, it does raise the cost of care as part of the cost is “spent” on caregiver’s pleasure. We find empirical evidence in support of this theoretical implication.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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