Home and Community Care Digest
Methods: This review focused on articles with quantitative data concerning labour market activities pursued by unpaid caregivers. Unpaid caregivers were defined as "the family members and friends who, on the basis of close personal relationships, provide home care services to recipients in their private residences without financial compensation". After searching 13 prominent databases covering economics, health services research, social work, gerontology, nursing, and gender studies, the authors reviewed 42 studies published between 1986 and 2006.
Findings: Overall, when examining unpaid caregiving and labor force participation (i.e., "in or out"), caregiving does not seem to affect a person's participation in the work force. However, those caregivers with the following factors are more likely to stop, decrease, or adjust their labour market activities to accommodate their caregiving responsibilities: women, poor health, older caregivers/near retirement age, more involved in caregiving duties, immediate family members, care recipients with greater health limitations, young children at home, lower income, and less education. In particular, those co-residing with care recipients were the most likely to be out of the labor force, to work fewer hours, or to make work accommodations.
Unpaid caregiving seems to have an inverse relationship with work. Caregiving can be associated with a large reduction in the number of hours worked, ranging from 0 - 6 hours for every hour of care provided. Some studies found that individuals seem to be able to balance their employment, caregiving, and life responsibilities as long as the caregiving is not too heavy (i.e., where caregiving is less than 10 hours per week).
Conclusions: When controlling for socio-demographic factors, caregiving does not seem to affect a person's participation in the work force. As caregiving increases in intensity and time, unpaid caregivers are likely to work less, especially when caregiving exceeds 10 hours per week. To maximize benefits to the public, policy makers should target programs to caregivers with heavy/intensive commitments, as these unpaid caregivers report the greatest propensity to withdraw from the labour market.
Reference: Lilly M, Laporte A, Coyte PC. Labor Market Work and Home Care's Unpaid Caregivers: A Systematic Review of Labor Market Force Participation Rates, Predictors of Labor Market Withdrawal, and Hours of Work. Millbank Quarterly. 2007; 85 (4), 641-690.
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