Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

The Impact of Informal Caregiving Intensity on Labour Market Outcomes

Document type Thesis
Author Jacobs, Josephine Christina
Degree Ph.D., Institute of Health policy, Management and Evaluation
Publisher University of Toronto; Toronto
Date 2014
Pages 180 pages


Most OECD countries have introduced policies shifting health care into community settings. These policies rely on informal caregivers to provide care to disabled or ill family and friends. At the same time, there are policies in place promoting labour market retention. To better understand how caregiving and labour policies may interact to affect the available pool of caregivers and labour force participants, we need more evidence about how informal caregiving is related to labour market outcomes. We explore this issue through three empirical studies, with a focus on caregivers who provide significant amounts of weekly care (i.e. intensive caregivers).The first study uses the Canadian cross-sectional General Social Survey to determine whether providing informal care is associated with various labour market states. We find that intense caregiving is associated with being fully retired for men and women. High intensity caregivers are also more likely to be retired before age 65. In the second study, we use the American National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women and control for time-invariant heterogeneity and time-varying sources of bias amongst retirement-aged women. We find that women who provide at least 20 hours of informal care per week are 3 percentage points more likely to retire relative to other women, which supports the idea that intensive caregiving may cause women to retire. Finally, given changes in the policy, demographic, and cultural contexts, we use the American National Longitudinal Surveys of Young and Mature Women to explore whether labour market penalties have changed over time. Following two cohorts of pre-retirement aged women, we find that intensive informal caregiving is negatively associated with labour force participation for both pre-Baby Boomers and Baby Boomers. The caregiving effects are not significantly different across cohorts, implying that, despite the introduction of offsetting policies, labour market penalties for caregivers have persisted.