Aims: Motivated by ageing populations, healthcare policies increasingly emphasize the role of informal care. This study examines how prevalence rates of informal caregivers and intensive caregivers (i.e. those who provide informal care for at least 11 hours a week) vary between European countries, and to what extent informal caregiving and intensive caregiving relate to countries’ formal long-term care provisions and family care norms. Methods: Multilevel logistic regression analyses on data from the European Social Survey Round 7 (n = 32,894 respondents in n = 19 countries) were used to test (a) contradicting hypotheses regarding the role of formal long-term care provisions based on crowding-out, crowding-in and specialization arguments and (b) the hypothesis that strong family care norms are positively related to (intensive) informal caregiving. Results: Prevalence rates of informal caregiving varied between European countries, from 20% to 44%. Intensive caregiving ranged from 4% to 11%. Opposite patterns regarding the role of formal long-term care provisions were revealed: generous long-term care provisions in a country were related to a higher likelihood of providing informal care, but a lower likelihood of providing intensive care. Moreover, intensive caregiving was more likely when family care norms in a country were strong. Conclusions: This study provided support for the specialization argument by showing that generous formal long-term care provisions crowded-out intensive caregiving, but also encouraged more people to provide (some) informal care. Because especially intensive caregiving is burdensome, low levels of formal long-term care provisions might bring risks to caregivers’ well-being and healthcare systems’ sustainability.