Abstract

Using the SABE 1 data set, this paper describes the support that the elderly receive from family members, siblings, friends and the community where they live in four Latin American cities. It also reports the activities that the elderly do for their family members. In the four distinct cities included in the study, we find similar trends in terms of living arrangements, the role of caregivers and the type of activities that elderly people provide for their family members. Our findings indicate the elderly without any support tend to be in better health and socio-economic conditions than elderly persons with family or community support; this is likely because healthier individuals need less assistance. Surprisingly, most of the elderly without any help from family members do not receive support from the community either. Daughters inside the household are the most likely caregivers and receive most assistance from the elderly in return. The exchange of services and activities within the household reflects the higher gains that female caregivers receive from taking care of elderly relatives, or the lower wages and consequently their lower cost of providing care. Among the providers of money, sons and daughters share similar characteristics. A significant number of caregivers are in the productive years of their life. A discussion of the policy options to increase elderly health and to improve the role of caregivers is included.