Research Programme

Rural ageing, migration and care

David BellAlison BowesAlasdair RutherfordElizabeth Schröder-Butterfill

Project summary


This aims of this project are to investigate issues of rural ageing and the implications of migration patterns for care of older people.

It explores and projects patterns of migration and their implications for care demand and supply in order to understand how individual households plan to manage the challenges of care for older people in rural areas and to consider the implications of these findings for policies relating to care.


The project has taken a mixed methods approach with two strands: quantitative analysis using large datasets; and qualitative study of households in rural areas

The datasets included the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and the Family Resources Survey (FRS) to explore the characteristics of informal carers and carees.

It also included fieldwork in two areas of the UK; one in rural Scotland and one in rural England.  The fieldwork gathered qualitative interview and focus group data from around 80 older people and informal carers. 


The project has shown the importance of considering informal support in older age as a care network, rather than as one-to-one. 

The study has highlighted the lack of planning for older age for many people, including location, housing and care plans.  It has shown the difficult decisions families face around informal care, particularly when families are increasingly further apart.



Bell, D. and Rutherford, D. (2012) Long-term care and the housing market Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 59 (5), 543-563.

Bell, D. and Bowes, A. (2012) Free Personal Care in Scotland, (Almost) 10 Years On in Wolf, D. A. and Folbre, N. (eds) Universal Coverage of Long-Term Care in the United States, Russell Sage Foundation, Chapter 5.


Media activities

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