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Family Care during the First COVID-19 Lockdown in Germany: Longitudinal Evidence on Consequences for the Well-Being of Caregivers

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Katja Möhring, Sabine Zinn, Ulrike Ehrlich

In: European Journal of Ageing 20 (2023), 15, 11 S.


We examine changes in the well-being of family caregivers during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany, using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) and the SOEP-CoV study. The COVID-19 pandemic posed an extraordinary challenge for family caregivers, as care recipients are a high-risk group requiring special protection, and professional care services were severely cut back. The specific situation of the COVID-19 pandemic allows us to re-examine the caregiver stress process model. Using first difference regression models, we analyse changes in general life satisfaction and depressive symptoms (PHQ-4 score) among family caregivers between 2019 and spring 2020, differentiating by care intensity and duration of the care episode. Caregivers show similar changes in well-being as non-caregivers: a simultaneous increase in depressive symptoms and life satisfaction between 2019 and 2020. However, our results reveal heterogeneity within the group of family caregivers as we find differences according to caregiving dynamics and intensity. Among the group of continuing caregivers, high-intensity caregivers experience a larger increase in life satisfaction, and low-intensity caregivers a smaller increase in life satisfaction, compared to non-caregivers. Our results therefore provide some support for the role enhancement hypothesis for continuing caregivers with high time commitment.

Sabine Zinn

Kommissarische Direktorin SOEP und Bereichsleitung Surveymethodik und -management in der Infrastruktureinrichtung Sozio-oekonomisches Panel

Keywords: Corona pandemic, depression, first difference regression, informal care, life satisfaction, SOEP-CoV