Migrant Labour in the Eldercare Sector (MILES)

G.W. Leeson, University of Oxford

Demographic ageing affects many aspects of contemporary society, and is expected to continue thus for the foreseeable future, particularly in respect of pensions, the provision of care and support for older people, workforce composition and family structures.

The provision of eldercare depends on labour market and welfare state regimes dominant in the country in question. Given existing differences in individual EU Member States, the use of migrant labour in the eldercare sector is in some instances predominantly in the formal and in other instances in the informal sector.

The objectives of this seminar series are:

  • to elucidate the scope of migrant labour in the eldercare sector in different European care / welfare regimes;
  • to analyse how the use of migrant labour in different care / welfare settings impinges on the financial and demographic sustainability, equity, cost effctiveness and quality of eldercare

with a view to informing policy development in the fields of immigration policies in the context of demographic change, as well as social policies to improve social cohesion in the ageing European societies. Particular attention will be paid to the implications for gendered care patterns and intergenerational relations at both family and societal level.

Coordinator of the seminar series: Dr. G W Leeson, Oxford Institute of Ageing, University of Oxford

First workshop: 8-11 January 2007 in Oxford

The first seminar took place at the Oxford Institute of Ageing, University of Oxford on 8th – 11th January 2007. The NORFACE workshop was linked to another seminar series on “Working Family Carers of Older Dependents in Europe – Between Labour Marked Demands and Intergenerational Solidarity / Conflict”, sponsored by the John Fell Oxford University Press Fund. This collaboration turned out to be mutually beneficiary due to a significant overlap in research interests. 25 academics (19 established researchers and 6 young researchers) from 16 EU member states representing both networks participated in the meeting.

The presentations during the MILES seminar compared the situation in ‘migrant sending’ (Poland, Romania) and ‘migrant receiving’ countries. The ‘migrant receiving’ countries were further differentiated according to the level of care provision by the welfare state into ‘high-road’ (Sweden, Netherlands), ‘middle-road’ (Germany, France) and ‘low-road’ (Italy, Portugal) countries. The main outcome of the seminar was the agreement by the group to prepare a funding application under the 7th Framework Programme.