Trying to hold onto a job while caring for a family member is a tough juggling act. Caregivers sometimes have to arrive late or leave early, cut back to part-time work, and decline travel or promotions.
For women, these competing responsibilities may prove particularly perilous, a study recently published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology suggests. Women who are caregivers are also significantly less likely to be in the labor force, compared to women who are not caregivers.
Yet for men, caregiving has no impact on employment status.
The authors, two professors of social work, unearthed these patterns in national data gathered in 2004 in the Health and Retirement Study. They looked at participants aged 50 to 61, more than 5,100 people, roughly a third of them family caregivers. About 4 percent were caring for a spouse, 15 percent for a grandchild and about 20 percent for a parent; some took care of more than one relative.
(Every study seems to use a different definition of caregiving. In this case, the researchers defined it as caring for parents or grandchildren for at least 100 hours over two years; spousal caregivers had no minimum time requirement.)
As in virtually every other study, women were more likely to care for parents. Seven percent of the total sample assisted with parents’ personal needs, compared to 3.6 percent of men. Close to 16 percent of men helped parents with chores, errands and transportation, while more than 20 percent of...