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Petra Ulmanen

About me

Petra Ulmanen, Ph.D. in Social Work, is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Work, Stockholm University. Her main research areas are social care, social policy and gender, and she is primarily focused on family caregiving for older persons and its social and economic consequences. She is currently working in several research projects concerning how caregivers for older persons are affected by the organization and performance of health and social care services:

Petra also works in the research programme Individualised care and universal welfare: Dilemmas in an era of marketisation, financed by Forte.

Petra defended her doctoral thesis in 2015: The cost of caring the the Swedish welfare state. Feminist perspectives on family care for older people.

Petra Ulmanen has previously been working as a researcher, journalist and editor of cultural magazines. She took part in the set up of the Swedish feminist magazine Bang in the early 1990s, where she worked as editor. She worked at the National Board of Health and Welfare in a Government commission about the social services from a gender perspective. She was also appointed by the Swedish Government to work in the Inquiry on Gender Equality Policy.

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Reversed socioeconomic pattern in the costs of caring regarding well‐being and paid work among women in Sweden

    2021. Petra Ulmanen. Social Policy & Administration

    Article

    This study analyses the role of gender and educational attainment in the extent and perceived consequences of family caregiving in middle age in Sweden, using data on persons aged 45–66 years from a nationally representative postal survey (n = 3630) conducted in 2013. The results confirm previous research regarding the role of gender and contradict it regarding the role of class. Among female caregivers, higher education is associated with lower well-being, work performance and labour force participation relative to lower educated caregivers. When controlling for care intensity and other characteristics, these associations mostly remained. No significant associations were found among men. The results are discussed in the light of deteriorating working conditions in welfare service occupations in which many higher educated women work, and how service decline and increased fragmentation of eldercare increase the need for managerial caregiving (i.e., coordinating and handling contacts with authorities and care providers). For Swedish women, managerial caregiving increases risks of negative impacts on well-being and work performance to the same extent as providing personal care. More research is needed to understand these surprising results. Tentative conclusions are that higher educated women experience more strain from combining paid work with family care, as their caregiving is more demanding and they more frequently work full-time in high strain jobs. As they also have higher incomes, they both need and can afford to decrease their work hours to a greater extent.

    Read more about Reversed socioeconomic pattern in the costs of caring regarding well‐being and paid work among women in Sweden
  • The role of gender and country of birth for the extent and consequences of informal caregiving in Sweden

    2019. Petra Ulmanen, Helene Brodin. Changing priorities: The making of care policy and practices, 74-75

    Conference

    Formally provided eldercare services have declined in Sweden since the 1980s, followed by an increase in assistance from children, relatives and friends. This kind of informal care is most common among older people with lower levels of education and among older people born outside the Nordic countries. Although previous studies have concluded that daughters are the main providers of informal care regardless of country of birth, we still lack studies comparing the intensity and consequences of informal caregiving across different population groups in Sweden.

    The aim of this paper is to analyse the role of gender and country of birth (born in Sweden or other Nordic countries vs in non-Nordic countries) for the extent and consequences of informal caregiving in Sweden. The analysis is based on a nationally representative postal survey (n=3630, aged 45-66 years) from 2013. 

    Results: In the middle-aged population, 26% are caregivers, defined as providing help at least once a week to a family member, relative or friend with a disability or longstanding illness. 80 per cent of caregivers primarily assist an older adult (65 years+). While the proportion providing care does not differ significantly between the groups, non-Nordic immigrant women provide the most intensive care (13.2 hrs/week), compared to immigrant men (6.7 hrs/week), and both women and 75   men born in the Nordic countries (6.1 and 4.7 hrs/week respectively). Of the four groups, immigrant women most frequently provide the most demanding forms of care (personal and/or medical care as well as co-resident care), and are the group most negatively affected by caregiving, also when controlling for the amount of care provided. Country of origin however matters also for men. Compared to men born in the Nordic countries, non-Nordic immigrant men do more frequently provide the most demanding forms of care, and are more negatively affected by caregiving, also when controlling for the amount of care provided. Among female caregivers, immigrants are more affected in all four areas examined: well-being, work situation, labour force participation and economy. Among male caregivers, immigrants are more affected in all areas except labour force participation. 

    Altogether, the study points to the conclusion that non-Nordic immigrants are more negatively affected by caregiving than persons born in the Nordic countries, and that this is valid for both sexes, although immigrant women are the group most affected. That immigrant caregivers, both women and men, provide more demanding forms of care, may reflect that the persons they assist do not have access to care services to the same extent as other groups, and/or that the services are not suitable for their needs. This raises questions about inequalities in access to care services and needs of culturally sensitive care services. Even when controlling for the amount of care provided, immigrants are more affected by caregiving, and this is valid for both sexes, which may be related to their general weaker positions on the Swedish labour market. Only among female caregivers, however, immigrants are more affected in their labour force participation, which points to caregiving as a threat to primarily immigrant women’s economic independence.

    Read more about The role of gender and country of birth for the extent and consequences of informal caregiving in Sweden
  • The meaning of gender and country of birth for the extent and consequences of informal caregiving in Sweden

    2018. Petra Ulmanen. Universalism at stake – Social inequalities in long-term care in the Nordic countries

    Conference

    Background: In Sweden since the 1980s, LTC services have declined, followed by an increase in informal care. Studies on the intensity and consequences of this kind of caregiving are sparse in Sweden. The paper analyzes the meaning of gender and country of birth for the extent and consequences of informal caregiving in Sweden. Methods: Analysis is based on a postal survey (n=3630, aged 45-66 years) from 2013. Results: Of the respondents, 28% are caregivers, defined as providing help at least once a week to a family member, relative or friend with a disability or longstanding illness. Immigrant women provide the most intensive care (14.1 hrs/week), compared to immigrant men (6.9 hrs/week) and both women and men. Conclusion: Informal care in Sweden has a gendered as well as an ethnic component.

    Read more about The meaning of gender and country of birth for the extent and consequences of informal caregiving in Sweden
  • Family care in the Swedish welfare state: extent, content and consequences

    2017. Petra Ulmanen. Innovation and Sustainability, 3rd Transforming Care Conference, Milan, Italy, 26-28 June 2017

    Conference

    The aim of this paper is to analyse the extent, content and consequences of family caregiving among middle-aged women and men in Sweden today. The analysis focuses on gender and level of education, using data on persons aged 45-66 years from a nationally representative postal survey (n=3630) conducted in 2013. Of the respondents, 28% are caregivers, defined as providing help at least once a week to a family member, relative or friend with a disability or longstanding illness. Almost 80% of the caregivers assist an older person (65+), most often a frail parent.

    This paper confirms previous research in that middle-aged women are more frequently caregivers, give more intensive care and are more frequently negatively affected by caregiving than middle-aged men. The gender difference in both the frequency and intensity of caregiving is however only found among highly educated persons, and the gender differences in the consequences of caregiving are more extensive in this group, especially regarding their work situation.

    The analysis focuses on educational differences among women and men, respectively. No educational differences were found among women or men in how common it is in the middle-aged population to be a caregiver. Female caregivers with higher education however give more intensive care, on average 7.9 hours a week compared to 4.9 hours a week among other female caregivers. Female caregivers with higher education are more negatively affected than other female caregivers on a number of outcomes concerning well-being, work situation and attachment to the labour market. These outcomes include difficulties to find time to see friends, mental strain, reduced ability to focus on the job, difficulties in keeping working hours, difficulties in managing to accomplish tasks and having to reduce working hours because of caregiving. No significant educational differences between female caregivers were however found in experiencing physical strain, being on sick leave for more than two weeks, having to quit the job or have retired earlier than planned due to caregiving.

    No educational differences were found among male caregivers in the intensity of care provided (around 5 hours a week on average). The only negative outcome that differs among male caregivers with different levels of level of education concerns mental strain; those with higher education more frequently experience mental strain due to caregiving.

    These results fill a knowledge gap in Swedish research on the extent and consequences of caregiving in middle age. Previous analyses of nationally representative surveys on socioeconomic differences among women and men in the extent and consequences of caregiving in Sweden are almost non-existing.

    Read more about Family care in the Swedish welfare state: extent, content and consequences
  • Childcare and eldercare policies in Sweden

    2016. Petra Ulmanen. The sandwich generation, 242-261

    Chapter

    Having both children and aged parents with care needs while being in paid work is probably more frequent, but less problematic, in Sweden compared to most other welfare states. Although the average Swedish woman has almost two children during her lifetime and it is very common in mid-life to care for aged parents, women remain in paid work due to highly accessible publicly financed child- and eldercare services.

    The main focus in Scandinavian child- and eldercare policy is to make the individual’s welfare less dependent upon their possibilities to purchase care services at the market and to receive care from the family; ambitions described by the two concepts universalism and de-familization. This chapter examines the meaning of economic and social de-familization (economic and social autonomy) in two types of care relationships – parental childcare and filial care – as well as from two perspectives: the perspective of the person in need of care and the potential or actual caregiver.

    Care services, as well as payments for care and care leave, have increased for childcare and decreased for eldercare in Sweden during the last three decades. While the development of childcare services stands out as a success story resulting in nearly universal access, Sweden has transformed its formerly universalistic eldercare system into a more selective and familialistic one. The decline in eldercare services is contrary to law, national policy and the care preferences of older persons. Their right to autonomy and self-determination has been drastically curtailed.

    Read more about Childcare and eldercare policies in Sweden
  • From the state to the family or to the market?

    2015. Petra Ulmanen, Marta Szebehely. International Journal of Social Welfare 24 (1), 81-92

    Article

    This article analyses the changing roles of the state, family and market in providing care for older people in Sweden, in relation to Scandinavian welfare ideals of universalism and de-familisation. Since 2000 every fourth residential care bed has disappeared and the increase in homecare services has not compensated for the decline. Instead family care (defined here as help from adult children and other non-cohabiting family or friends) has increased in all social groups: help by daughters mainly among older people with shorter education and help by sons among those highly educated. Use of privately purchased services has also increased but continues to play a marginal role. Family care remains more common among older people with less education whereas privately purchased services are more common among those with higher education. This dualisation of care challenges universalism, and working-class daughters continue to be most affected by eldercare cutbacks.

    Read more about From the state to the family or to the market?
  • Kvinnors och mäns hjälp till sina gamla föräldrar

    2015. Petra Ulmanen. Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift 22 (2), 111-132

    Article

    Women’s and men’s filial care: extent, content and consequences

    This paper analyses the extent, content and consequences of caregiving for elderly parents from agender and welfare state perspective using a nationally representative postal survey conducted in Sweden in 2013 (response rate 60.5 per cent, 3630 individuals, age 45–66 years). Negative consequencesof filial care on well-being, work situation and employment were examined. The analysisconfirms earlier research showing that filial care is common in Sweden but is less intense and hasfewer negative consequences than in less generous welfare states. A quarter of both women andmen gave filial care at least once a month, on average around 3.4 hours a week.Although men and women gave the same extent of filial care, it was more common amongwomen to give the more demanding personal care as well as to experience mental and physicalstrain, difficulties in finding time for leisure activities and reduced ability to focus on their job. Although women retired earlier than planned due to filial care more often than men, this was very rare. Men and women, however, suffered to the same extent from difficulties in managing to accomplish their tasks, to take part in meetings, courses and travels, as well as having to reducetheir working hours and quit their jobs. The content of care was crucial for the occurrence of negative consequences of caregiving, evenwhen the analysis controlled for hours of care given. The more demanding the care tasks performed,the more common it was among both men and women that their well-being and worksituation were affected. The correlation between care tasks and negative impact, however, differedbetween genders. The impact of managerial care was much higher for women than for men,which is discussed in relation to the decline of eldercare services and the lack of coordination of health and eldercare services.

    Read more about Kvinnors och mäns hjälp till sina gamla föräldrar
  • Omsorgens pris i åtstramningstid

    2015. Petra Ulmanen (et al.).

    Thesis (Doc)

    This thesis examines the extent of family care for older people, primarily filial care, and the costs of caring in the Swedish welfare state. Costs of caring are understood as the negative effects of caregiving, primarily on the caregivers’ working life. The analysis is inspired by feminist theories on the importance of welfare state provisions for care for women’s citizenship, including personal autonomy and economic independence.

    The main aims of this thesis are twofold. The first is to explore the extent and development of family care for older persons in Sweden, primarily filial care, and the consequences of caregiving for well-being and working life. The second is to explore how older persons’ family members have been represented and the possible consequences of these representations for the development of publicly financed eldercare services and other forms of support for family carers, as well as for family members’ living conditions.

    The thesis consists of four studies. The first reviews the literature concerning the extent and consequences of family caregiving for older persons and the welfare state’s policy responses to older people’s care needs. The second study analyses how older persons’ family members and their role in eldercare have been represented in Swedish eldercare policy since the 1950s. The third study analyses surveys to explore changes during the 2000s in the role of the family, the public sector and the market in providing care for older persons in Sweden. The fourth study is a survey analysis of the extent, content and consequences of filial care among middle-aged women and men in Sweden in 2013.

    The policy analysis found that the expansion of eldercare was motivated solely in relation to older persons’ needs; thus working daughters’ needs of eldercare have been a blind spot in Swedish eldercare policy.

    Since 2000, every fourth residential care bed has disappeared and the increase in homecare services did not fully compensate for the decline, resulting in a significant increase in filial care in all social groups, and among both sons and daughters. Daughters of older persons with shorter education, however, remained the primary providers of filial care.

    Both daughters and sons are affected by caregiving. They suffer to the same extent from difficulties in managing to accomplish their work tasks and taking part in meetings, courses and travels. They are also equally likely to reduce their working hours and to quit their job. It is however clearly more common that daughters experience mental and physical strain, difficulties in finding time for leisure and reduced ability to focus on their job. Although more daughters than sons retire earlier than planned due to filial care, this is very rare.

    Managerial care (handling contacts with health and eldercare services) has a more salient role in a welfare state such as Sweden, with generously provided care services, less intense filial care and high employment rates among both sexes. The high labour force participation however makes middle aged children more vulnerable when their parents’ care arrangement does not work. The decline in eldercare services since 1980 has reinforced co-ordination problems in health and eldercare services. The managerial care required to handle this development, while living up to the demands of work and family life, stands out as especially demanding for the well-being and working lives of daughters.

    Read more about Omsorgens pris i åtstramningstid
  • From the state to the family or to the market? Consequences of reduced residential care in Sweden

    2013. Petra Ulmanen.

    Conference

    Starting with the ideals of universalism and de-familisation, this article analyses the role of the state, the family and the market as providers of care for older people in different social groups in Sweden in the 2000s. The analysis is based on data from the Swedish Living Conditions Surveys for the years 2002–2003 and 2009–2010, with a total of 1,805 individuals in need of practical help aged 65 years and older.

    In the 2000s the number of beds in residential care was reduced by one fourth, thus increasing family care considerably in all social groups. However, there was an interaction between class and gender. The help given by daughters increased primarily among older people with lower levels of education while the help given by sons increased primarily among those with higher education, making the help given by sons and daughters equally common in this latter group.

    Stimulated by the introduction of a tax deduction on household services and personal care in 2007, privately purchased services also increased. These services, however, still play a marginal role, in particular for older people with lower levels of education. A class-related pattern remains in that family care is more common among older people with less education whereas privately purchased services are more common among those with higher education. Thus, even if there is a trend of re-familisation in all social groups, the dualisation of care challenging universalism remains, and working class daughters are still the most affected by the cutbacks.

    Read more about From the state to the family or to the market? Consequences of reduced residential care in Sweden
  • Working Daughters

    2013. Petra Ulmanen. Social Politics 20 (1), 65-87

    Article

    Care services help women who are mothers or daughters to combine caregiving and gainful employment. While Swedish childcare policy expanded services to meet the needs of children and working mothers, this discourse analysis of Swedish eldercare policy shows that the expansion of eldercare services from the 1950s to the end of 1970s was justified solely on the basis of older people's needs. The lack of connection in policy documents between the needs of working daughters and the provision of eldercare services made it easier to cut services beginning in the 1980s, without considering the consequences for family members.

    Read more about Working Daughters
  • From the state to the family and to the market? An equality perspective on eldercare services in Sweden

    2012. Petra Ulmanen.

    Conference

    Eldercare services are a crucial part of the Nordic welfare model. In Sweden, public eldercare services have decreased since the 1980s, at the same time as informal care and private services bought in the market have increased. The Swedish eldercare system has moved away from its de-familialising potential and the principle of universialism, towards a partially familialistic and selective system. Informal care, in particular care provided by daughters, has increased mainly among older people with fewer resources. Although few older people buy private care services in the market, such purchases have increased among well-off groups of older people since the 1980s.

    This paper analyses sources of care among older people in Sweden from 1988 to 2010, using data from the Living Conditions Survey (ULF) by Statistics Sweden. The focus of the analysis is on how different social groups of older people have been affected by the decrease in eldercare services as well as by the increase in informal care and privately purchased services. The analysis concerns social class, gender and country of origin. The paper discusses the consequences for older people and their children of these shifting boundaries of care from the perspective of the Nordic welfare model’s strive for equality.

    Read more about From the state to the family and to the market? An equality perspective on eldercare services in Sweden
  • Åtstramningens pris

    2012. Marta Szebehely, Petra Ulmanen.

    Report

    Rapporten undersöker hur den svenska äldreomsorgen har förändrats över tid. Hur har förändringarna påverkat de äldre, och hur har de påverkat deras anhörigas förvärvsarbete? Vi bygger på nya analyser av SCB:s stora intervjustudier av befolkningens levnadsförhållanden (ULF), samt tidigare svensk och internationell forskning. Vi jämför förändringarna under 1980- och 1990-talen med förändringarna under 2000-talet.

    Read more about Åtstramningens pris
  • Jämställdhetens blinda fläck

    2009. Petra Ulmanen. Äldreomsorg (3)

    Article

    Äldreomsorgen och barnomsorgen har samma funktion: att göra det möjligt för framförallt kvinnor att försörja sig genom eget förvärvsarbete. Men tillgången och kvaliteten på omsorgstjänsterna behöver förbättras och rätten att "vaffa" borde införas.

    Read more about Jämställdhetens blinda fläck
  • Next-of-kin in Swedish elder care policy – problem representations and outcomes

    2008. Petra Ulmanen.

    Conference

    The starting point of this paper is that widely available elder care services of good quality are seen as an essential support for family carers, which has made it possible especially for daughters of frail older people to combine family care and paid labour.

    The aim of the paper is to analyze problem representations and outcomes of Swedish elder care policy concerning the next-of-kin of older people. How are next-of-kin and their role in elder care described in policy documents? And what outcomes (in terms of policy proposals as well as coverage of care services and payments for family care) are associated with different descriptions? The materials analyzed are Government Bills on eldercare from 1957 to 2006.

    The analysis indicates that it has been uncommon in Swedish elder care policy to regard public elder care services as important for next-of-kin. During the expansion period (1950s to 1970s) of the public care services, their needs were hardly mentioned. The expansion was motivated only in relation to the needs of older people. From the 1980s onward, the Government has stressed the need of public support for family carers and has taken several measures to improve their situation. However, public elder care services as well as financial support to family carers have decreased during the same period, and it was still uncommon to regard public care as a form of support for family carers.  

    Read more about Next-of-kin in Swedish elder care policy – problem representations and outcomes
  • Äldres döttrar

    2008. Petra Ulmanen.

    Other

    Sedan slutet av 1990-talet har det runt om i landet blivit allt vanligare med olika former av anhörigstöd. Målgruppen för kommunernas stödär framförallt äldre personer som vårdar sin make eller maka. I denna artikel beskriver Petra Ulmanen hur situationen kan te sig för de äldres döttrar i rollen som anhöriga. Hon diskuterar också – utifrån ett jämställdhetsperspektiv– hur denna grupp anhöriga skulle kunna stödjas. Petra Ulmanen har varit sekreterare i utredningen Makt att forma samhälletoch sitt eget liv – jämställdhetspolitiken mot nya mål, och är nu verksam som doktorand vid Socialhögskolan i Stockholm.

    Read more about Äldres döttrar
  • Äldreomsorgen hotar gå tillbaka till fattigvård

    2007. Petra Ulmanen, Marta Szebehely. Expressen (30 maj)

    Article

    Pressen att vårda sina gamla föräldrar har ökat bland döttrarna till lågutbildade äldre. Våra nya beräkningar visar att närmare 60 000 kvinnor i dag har gått ner till deltid eller lämnat sitt förvärvsarbete helt för att kunna vårda gamla eller sjuka anhöriga. Välbärgade medelålders kvinnor kan med det nya skatteavdraget köpa billig hushållshjälp till sina föräldrar. Det kan inte arbetarklassen. Nya avdragen för hushållsnäratjänster gynnar då jämställdheten bara för de rika. Det skriver i dag professor MARTA SZEBEHELY och doktorand PETRA ULMANEN vid Institutionen för socialt arbete, Stockholms universitet.

    Read more about Äldreomsorgen hotar gå tillbaka till fattigvård

Show all publications by Petra Ulmanen at Stockholm University