Informal carers provided €22 billion worth of care in 2019

Informal carers make a major contribution to society. This contribution is valuable for the person in need of care as well as for the informal carer.

Social importance of informal carers
Nevertheless, MantelzorgNL commissioned us to identify the social costs and benefits of informal care. Based on our research, we estimate the total social costs of informal care at €22 billion per year. These costs largely consist of the time that informal carers spend on the care they provide. Since they could otherwise spend this time on other activities, such as education or work, this time represents certain value. In addition, some informal carers incur additional costs when providing informal care, for example travel expenses.

The replacement value of care, the cost involved in care professionals taking over informal care, is 70-100% higher than the social cost of providing care. The costs involved in informal care are lower than the costs involved in the provision of this care by care professionals. The outcome of the study underlines the great social importance of informal carers.

The social costs and benefits of informal care support 
In our study, we examine two variants to support informal care: respite care and informal care broker. Of both, the costs and benefits for an individual pathway have been identified as best as possible, based on literature review and interviews.

  • Respite care

Respite care is the (temporary or structural) replacement of a informal carer by a volunteer or paid worker. In practice, several forms of respite care exist, such as medical or general skilled workers who come to the home for a few hours a week. Our research shows that the cost of respite care can be recovered. The cost of respite care is recovered if downtime due to illness of the informal carer, and the associated costs, are avoided for one week per year.

  • Informal care broker

The deployment of an informal care broker aims to support the informal caregiver with arranging tasks. Our analysis shows that the costs of the deployment of an informal care broker are recouped if a limited amount of downtime due to illness of the informal caregiver can be prevented. If three days of illness can be prevented with the deployment of the informal care broker, the social benefits exceed the costs of employing the informal care broker. Our analysis is based as much as possible on scientific literature and practice data on care activities and support for informal carers. More research on these topics can further deepen the understanding of the social value of informal care, as well as the support of informal caregivers.

Calculation per municipality (June 2021)
On behalf of Mantelzorg NL, Ecorys is currently calculating the value of informal carers per municipality. The value of informal carers in the Groningen municipality, for example, is estimated between 207 and 341 million euros per year. The Groningen informal carers also incur other costs, such as travel expenses to provide needed help and support, which are estimated at 26 million euros.

For the municipality of de Bilt, the value of their efforts is estimated between 36 and 60 million euros per year and in addition they incur 4.5 million euros in other costs for needed support.

Want to know more? Read the research report (in Dutch) for more information.

Do you have a question or want more information about our approach? If so, please contact Wim Spit.

8 March 2021

3 minute read

Key Experts

Wim Spit

Senior economist