Gender inequalities in health in later life: Does informal caregiving matter?

Tom Emery, NIDI
Anne H. Gauthier, NIDI
Nardi Steverink, Department of Health Psychology, University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), University of Groningen
Damiano Uccheddu, Department of Sociology, University of Groningen

Numerous studies have shown that women generally report worse health conditions than men, even though they live longer. These gender inequalities in health may partially stem from caregiving responsibilities, precisely because they are often performed by women. This study aims at examining the mediating role of caregiving in the association between gender and health in later life. We used panel data from 28,109 individuals (76,845 observations) older than the age of 50 who participated in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) between the years 2004-2015. We employed random-effects logistic regression models and the Karlson, Holm, and Breen (KHB) decomposition method – adjusting for important covariates – to decompose the total effect of gender on health in its direct and indirect components. Caregiving activities included spousal and parental care. Health was measured by self-perceived health, depressive symptoms (EURO-D scale), activities of daily living (ADL), and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). Preliminary results suggest that women, for each of the four health outcomes, report worse health conditions than men. Contrary to expectations, the health gaps between women and men appear not to be associated with differences in caregiving responsibilities. In our further analyses, we aim at investigating the role of the broader institutional context in shaping the relationships between gender, care, and health. Moreover, we aim at examining in a more detailed way the role exerted by different types of care activities.

Presented in Session 53: Gender and Health