IESOP: Independence and Economic Security of the Older Population

Abstract of Research Paper No. 5
Women, Work and Caregiving: How Much Difference Does a Great Job Really Make?
by Anne Martin-Matthews and Carolyn J. Rosenthal

This paper examines whether type of job makes a difference in (a) the likelihood that individuals are providing assistance to elderly relatives, (b) the 'costs' associated with this provision, in terms of both job-related and personal costs, and (c) whether observed relationships differ for men and for women. Data are derived from a sample of Canadian employees who participated in a study of work/family balance conducted by the Work and Eldercare Research Group of CARNET: The Canadian Aging Research Network, based at the University of Guelph. The analysis compared full-time employees in three job categories: managerial/professional (n = 1,996); semi-professional (n = 1,270) and clerical, sales, service, craft and trades (n = 2,112).

The data indicate no differences between the three occupational groups in the likelihood of providing assistance to elderly relatives. The relationship between job type and both job and personal costs was found to vary in relation to the extent of involvement in the caregiver role. Job costs include lateness, absenteeism, foregoing promotions, missed meetings, and so forth, while personal costs include the perception of work interference with family life, and perceived levels of stress. Among employees providing between 1 and 4 hours of assistance on average per week, gender is associated with significant differences in job and personal costs. This is not true for those providing more hours of care. For both men and women, there appears to be a threshold (5 or more hours of care on average per week) beyond which neither gender nor job type makes a difference in terms of job and personal costs.

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Last updated: Dec 16, 1997.