Institutionalised elderly people in Catalonia: How many are they and how are they? (DOI: 10.2436/20.3000.02.35)


  • Pilar Zueras Castillo Centre d'Estudis Demogràfics (UAB)
  • Marc Ajenjo i Cosp Centre d'Estudis Demogràfics (UAB)

Paraules clau:

elderly, functional dependency, living arrangements, institutionalisation, family network


The institutionalised population aged 65 and over in Catalonia has been on the constant upswing in recent decades because of both improved survival and the expansion of institutionalisation. Although in relative terms it only comprised 4% of population aged 65 and over in 2011, its prevalence increases dramatically beyond age 80. Because this population is systematically not taken into account in surveys addressed to the population living in households, nor is it used in sociological analyses, it is essential to ascertain its composition in order to correct biases.

We use data for Catalonia from the last four editions of the census (1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011) with a twofold objective: to quantify the population aged 65 or older not living in private households in Catalonia and to study its evolution during the last three decades. To complement this data, we analyse the Health Survey of the Institutionalized Population in Catalonia (ESPI, 2006) with the aim of developing a profile of the population living in residential care facilities. People living in institutions cannot be considered homogeneous, although there is a high presence of very old women. A large share of them fits the profile of widows over the age of 80, with low education and income levels, who previously lived alone and are dependent for functional activity or have deteriorated mental health, and who state that they entered the institution because of issues related to health or autonomy. However, a cluster analysis has identified other groups that show quite different situations. These results reveal the importance not only of deteriorating health in the process of institutionalisation but also the presence or absence of a family network, which is an important resource in dealing with the ageing process at home, because of either the need for assistance or the company and wellbeing it can provide.

Key words: elderly, functional dependency, living arrangements, institutionalisation, family network

Original source: Revista Catalana de Sociologia, 31(2): 5-23 (2016)