Home and Community Care Digest
Methods: The authors used the United Kingdom's 1990 General Household Survey to analyze the labour market behaviour of women aged 18-59, and men aged 18-64, for both caregivers and non-caregivers. Based on earlier research by the same authors, they hypothesized that caregivers who devoted more time to caregiving duties were more likely to leave the labour force than those providing fewer hours of care. As such, they developed empirical models to predict the impact of caregiving time commitment (less than or greater than 10hrs per week) on the probability of labour force participation and hourly wages. They used statistical regression techniques to isolate the unique influence of caregiving versus other sociodemographic factors, such as age, education, household income, and the presence of children.
Findings: Both male and female caregivers providing more than 10 hours of care per week are significantly less likely to participate in the labour market than non-caregivers (males are 13% less likely and females are 27% less likely than non-caregivers of the same sex). However, the labour supply (time spent working) of male and female caregivers providing less than 10 hours of care is not significantly different from noncaregivers. Similarly, male and female caregivers providing more than 10 hours of care per week receive significantly lower wages than non-caregivers (18% lower for men and 9% lower for women compared to non-caregivers of the same sex).
Conclusions: The authors' results indicate that caregivers who are heavily involved in caregiving duties are less likely to participate in the labour market than non-caregivers, and to incur significant economic losses in the form of lost/lower wages. Although women are more likely to act as caregivers and tend to provide more hours of care than men, the economic losses experienced by men who provide more than 10 hours of care weekly are equally serious. In the United Kingdom, these results suggest that national strategies for carer-friendly employment policies, and financial compensation for caregivers may be appropriate. In Canada, this study may help inform labour policy and debates around extending employment insurance benefits to family members providing end-of-life care.
Reference: Carmichael, Fiona and Susan Charles. The opportunity costs of informal care: does gender matter? Journal of Health Economics, 2003; 22; 781-803
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