CareOrg: Researching the transnational organization of senior care, labor and mobility in Central and Eastern Europe

Volkswagen Stiftung 

2023 - 2026

Project leader (on behalf on CSS): Dóra Gábriel 

Project Participant: Noémi Katona 


Given demographic, political, and social developments, the demand for transnational senior care services will continue to grow across Europe. In Germany e.g., it is estimated that 450,000 CEE migrants commute to provide live-in care for seniors in private homes every year; increasingly, German care policies are taking their presence for granted in long-term planning. Fueled by economic inequalities in Europe, transnational senior care would seem to provide a perfect solution to the reproductive crisis facing many countries, while also providing benefits for welfare states, labor markets, and households. However, a question mark hangs over its sustainability. CareOrg will investigate the professionalization processes taking place in senior care work within the region of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), including Ukraine. It addresses the possibility of sustainable and decent care work in Europe by: (1) mapping and analyzing current and future patterns of commodification, marketization, and corporatization of transnational senior care within and from CEE; (2) shifting the academic focus towards a discussion of the meso-level organization of care from the intersection points between care, labor, and mobility; (3) taking the perspective of sending and transit countries as a focus of the study; (4) formulating policy recommendations and feeding into public and professional debate on decent care work and sustainable long-term care solutions within an asymmetrical Europe; and (5) boosting academic capacities in CEE countries and supporting our academic partners in Ukraine, by building a strong research consortium.

Our research questions are: 1) How is the transnational organization of senior care from and within the CEE countries, including Ukraine, shaped, formalized, professionalized, and politicized in and across the different countries? 2) How is the senior care market in the CEE countries changing as a result of developments within transnational care migration? 3) What do these developments mean for CEE: migrant care workers, their families, communities, labor markets, and welfare states?

Based on a cross-thematic and cross-country comparative design, it will use a mix of methods. These include 1) document analysis and policy research; 2) qualitative research: semi-structured and in-depth interviews with stakeholders; 3) ethnographic observation of social media use, educational tools and training; 4) quantitative data: online survey and questionnaires; 5) engaged research: participatory research; and also making a documentary film.