Elisa Labbas , Lund University
Maria Stanfors, Lund University
Given population ageing and emphasis on in-home care across Europe, more workers face competing demands of employment and providing unpaid care to elderly relatives. Studies commonly find a negative relationship between intensive caregiving and time spent in paid work, as well as a negative impact on caregivers’ health and well-being. Yet, empirical evidence around causal mechanisms and gendered patterns has been mixed. We examine the relationship of unpaid care for elderly parents and the well-being of working-age Europeans in a country comparative perspective, focusing on the role of employment as a moderating factor. Our sample from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) 2004-2015 consists of 10,591 men and women aged 50 to 64. Preliminary estimates for Sweden (n=1,067) suggest that while caregiving is common and not associated with reduced employment, it has a gendered impact on mental health. For women, caregiving has no effect but employment is associated with a reduced risk of clinically significant depression. For men, both non-intensive and intensive caregiving are associated with an elevated risk of experiencing clinically significant depression, irrespective of employment status. Employed individuals report, on average, higher levels of self-rated well-being, but caregiving is not related to this outcome. The results highlight a gendered pattern, suggesting that implications for men are more important than previously thought and that employment may have a protective effect on the mental health of women who are caregivers. Forthcoming work presents and interprets results for Sweden in contrast with selected European countries.
Presented in Session 52. Mental Health of Older People