Cash for Care as Special Money: The Meaning and Uses of the Care Allowance in Close Relationships in the Czech Republic

Link to Publication (External Site)

This paper investigates the responses of family members with long-term caring responsibilities in the Czech Republic to the introduction in 2007 of a cash-for-care benefit. Specifically, it examines how those family members viewed and used the benefit.

The research compares two in-depth qualitative studies: one undertaken with adult children providing care to their parents and the other of mothers caring for a disabled child. In both cases, the adults are entitled to the benefit.

Analysis of narrative and in-depth interviews with forty-eight informal caregivers showed that daughters providing care mostly earmarked the allowance as their parent’s money or did not claim it at all, while sons viewed it as a contribution to pay for care services. Mothers of disabled children interpreted it as compensation for their caring work.

The researcher says the findings show how unintended interpretations of the payments for care by the caregivers themselves hinder the redistribution and economic valuation of care. Cash-for-care in the form of an unconditional, direct payment to the care receivers does not always serve as an instrument to promote gender equality and to support and valuate care, but it can have a negative impact on the economic status of women.

Policymakers expected the benefit to boost the market in social services, increase the autonomy of people who need long-term care, and improve the economic situation of informal caregivers, but this was not the case. The researcher believes the findings can feed into ongoing debates among policymakers and gender equality advocates on care-related policies in countries facing rapid population ageing.