Introduction: This study analyzed the association between transitions into informal caregiving, inside and outside their own household, and changes in network size, quality, and composition among older adults (≥50 years) in four different welfare systems in Europe. Methods: Data from waves 4, 6, and 8 of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe was used and included up to 110,823 participants (aged ≥50 years) from 12 countries. Participants were asked about informal caregiving inside and outside the household and their network size, quality (emotional closeness, contact frequency), and composition (family, friends, men, women). Adjusted linear and Poisson fixed effects regression analyses were conducted. Results: Participants transitioning into any caregiving (inside or outside the household) had a larger network. More women and family members were found among all those transitioning into caregiving, but only outside caregiving was associated with more men and friends in the network. Transitioning into caregiving outside was associated with reduced network closeness and contact. Changes among caregivers outside were similar in all welfare states but were more pronounced among caregivers inside the household of Eastern Europe. Conclusion: Different patterns of changes in network size, quality, and composition were found among adults transitioning into caregiving inside and outside the household. All parameters changed among caregivers outside the household. However, the welfare system played a key role in the network changes among inside household caregivers. Thus, the micro as well as the macro context of caregiving is important for the support network of informal caregivers.

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