Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population


Vol. 1 No. 2

Summer 1999

web site --
editor: Deb Fretz -

The purpose of the SEDAP Bulletin is to provide a digest of the major research results of the SEDAP program. SEDAP (Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population) is a multidisciplinary research program studying a wide range of aging-related issues and is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. SEDAP is centred at McMaster University and involves researchers from that institution as well as from the University of British Columbia, Université de Montréal, Queen's and the University of Toronto.

I. SEDAP Research Papers

SEDAP Research Papers are available on the SEDAP web site at no cost. Paper copies may be obtained at nominal charge by contacting Mrs. Gail Kalika, Department of Economics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4M4, or by e-mail --

SEDAP Research Paper No. 4:

Families as Care-Providers versus Care-Managers?: Gender and Type of Care in a Sample of Employed Canadians

Carolyn J. Rosenthal (Gerontology & Sociology, McMaster) and Anne Martin- Matthews (Social Work and Family Studies, University of British Columbia)

Literature in the area of caregiving has tended to focus on direct, "hands-on" care provision. Relatively little research has examined care management, which primarily involves obtaining or coordinating needed services rather than providing them directly. Since managed care is a type of caregiving more commonly provided by employed women than by women not in the labour force, Rosenthal and Martin-Matthews see care management becoming increasingly prevalent as labour force participation rates for women continue to rise.

The authors use the 1991 Work and Family Survey conducted by the Canadian Aging Research Network. Activities in the survey classified by Rosenthal and Martin-Matthews as managerial care were:

The authors restrict their sample to persons employed full-time (4748 observations) and also examine a subset of that sample, of persons who provided some form of help (either managerial care or some form of "hands-on" care) to an elderly relative in the past six months (1873 observations).

Among the findings of Rosenthal and Martin-Matthews are that managerial care is most commonly provided in combination with other forms of assistance and that men who are employed full-time are as likely as women who are employed full-time to be managerial care providers. Findings are also presented on the characteristics of persons who provide managerial care as opposed to providers of other types of care. In addition, the authors examine adverse outcomes (such as stress and interference with work) for the providers of managerial care. That there may also be positive outcomes is acknowledged, but the data limitations of the survey did not permit the authors to explore that possibility.

SEDAP Research Paper No. 5:

Alternatives for Raising Living Standards

William Scarth ( Economics, McMaster)

In this theoretically-oriented paper, Scarth examines several government policy alternatives which might increase national saving and thereby raise future living standards:

Scarth models the Canadian economy using seven equations, with values for the parameters required for these equations set as closely as possible to actual values in the economy. (Some differences between the parameter values used and the values actually observed is unavoidable as it must be assumed that the model economy is in perfect equilibrium while this is not necessarily the case in the actual economy.) Two groups of individuals are considered in the model: savers and non-savers.

The first policy experiment is to lower the tax rate on interest income (to promote household saving), with government spending (on transfer payments) correspondingly decreased to compensate for lower tax revenues. Most of the evaluative measures used in this study show no gains from such a policy. The next experiment looks at government saving and involves lowering the government budget deficit as a proportion of tax revenue. The results of this experiment are somewhat more positive than for the interest income experiment, but neither is without drawbacks. Thus a third experiment was undertaken in which the population growth rate is increased by increasing the rate of immigration. Most of the evaluative measures show gains from such a policy.

Scarth then concludes that maximum benefits could be attained from a coordinated initiative of reducing the government deficit and increasing the population growth rate. He acknowledges that the model presented in the paper is highly simplified, but underlines that its purpose here is to provide a rigorous framework within which the potential benefits of broad policy alternatives may be compared.

II. New Member of the SEDAP Research Group

We are very pleased to welcome Lynda Hayward to the SEDAP research group. Lynda is the holder of a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She has chosen to pursue her research in the McMaster Centre for Gerontological Studies, where she will be working with SEDAP member Margaret Denton.

Lynda holds a B.E.S. degree in Preprofessional Architecture, an M.A. in Sociology and a Ph.D. in Planning, all from the University of Waterloo. Her doctoral thesis was entitled "Mid-life Patterns and the Residential Mobility of the Elderly: Planning for an Aging Population". While at McMaster, she will conduct research which builds on her dissertation work, examining the relationships between mid-life patterns and residential mobility shortly after retirement by gender and birth cohort. She will also be involved in research projects to investigate the extent to which paid employment impinges on women's provision of care to elderly parents, to estimate the economic value of spousal long-term caregiving and to examine unmet needs for assistance among older Canadians.

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Last revised: Aug 24, 1999.