Population ageing is a well-known (and some decades old) phenomenon of European societies: according to Eurostat data in 2017 older persons (i.e. 65 years or more) represented 19.4% of the EU-28 population, an increase of 0.2 percentage points compared with 2016 and of 2.4 percentage points compared with 1997. Even more relevant is the expected doubling of the share of population aged 80 years or more: from 5.5% in 2017 to 12.7% in 2080 (Eurostat 2018).1 Although population ageing has not always and everywhere translated into an increasing number of individuals who need long-term care support, at the same time a number of studies have suggested that there is not a clear trend towards a compression of morbidity, or that trend can fully compensate for the progressive increase of elderly individuals. As a consequence, it is expected that the need for care services will significantly increase in the next future, especially when the baby-boomer generation will hit age 70–75. In most European countries, the growing need for long-term care services has not been matched by an equal increase in policies addressing these needs. This suggests that the possibility (or not) of receiving informal care in later life will be an increasingly relevant dimensions along which inequalities in well-being later life are structured. Inequalities in care support – given and received – are clearly the result not only of individuals and household’s situation at the moment in which care needs arises, but most importantly of their life course. Family histories – i.e. marital and parenthood careers of family members – and the characteristics and history of intergenerational family solidarity play a huge role in determining the availability of care. Next, the institutional context – broadly defined in terms of the characteristics of both the welfare and family systems in the country of residence – also dramatically influences the equal/unequal distribution of formal and informal care. Using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, and adopting the instruments and analytical approach typically utilized in the studies of income inequalities, the present contribution aims at: first, shedding light on the level of inequality of the distribution care support (given and received) characterizing different European societies; second, exploring the possible relations between different levels of inequality in care support and the characteristics of the national family and welfare system; third, analysing the typical life course patterns of households and individuals who are categorized as care-poor, thus identifying the factors that are associated with the lack of informal care in later life; finally, investigating how these factors vary across different European societies.