The Dynamics of Social Care and Paid Work in Mid-Life

Jane Falkingham, Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton
Madelin Gomez-Leon, RECSM, Pompeu Fabra University
Maria Evandrou, Centre for Research on Ageing, University of Southampton
Athina Vlachantoni, Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton

Individuals’ involvement in multiple roles over the lifecourse, such as family roles (caring for older parents or dependent children) and paid employment may affect the balance of time dedicated to each role. Existing research has evidenced that a growing number of mid-life individuals are faced with ‘juggling’ multiple roles. This study investigates the relationship between the provision of informal care to older parents/parents-in-law and the employment status of adult children in mid-life.

The study analyses unique panel data for a cohort of individuals born in 1958 in Britain, focusing on respondents at risk of providing care (i.e. with at least one surviving parent/parent-in-law) and in employment at 50. Logistic regression is used to investigate the impact of caring at 50 and 55 on employment status at 55, controlling for socio-demographic characteristics, the respondent’s health status and their partner’s employment status. Separate models examine i) the likelihood of exiting the labour force versus continuing work, and ii) amongst those continuing in work, the likelihood of reducing hours of employment. Different types of care (personal, basic, and instrumental support) are distinguished, along with hours of caring.

The results highlight that providing care for more personal tasks, and for a higher number of hours, are associated with exiting employment for both men and women carers. In contrast, the negative impact of more intense caregiving on reducing working hours was significant only for men – suggesting that women may juggle intensive care commitments alongside work or leave work altogether. Facilitating women and men to combine paid work and parental care in mid-life will be increasingly important in the context of rising longevity.

Presented in Session 1129: Ageing and Intergenerational Relations