The impact of demographic change on transfers of care and associated well-being
Population Research and Policy Review, 41:6, 2419–2446 (2022)
This study aims to evaluate the impact of demographic change on long-term, macro-level childcare and adult care transfers, accounting for the associated well-being effects of informal caregiving. We measure the impact of demographic change on non-monetary care exchanged between different groups by estimating matrices of time transfers by age and sex, and weighting the time flows by self-reported indicators of well-being, for activities related to childcare and adult care. The analysis employs cross-sectional data from the American Time Use Survey 2011–2013, and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Disability, and Use of Time Module 2013 to produce the estimates of well-being associated with the two forms of care and their future projections. Both men and women experience more positive feelings when caring for children than when caring for adults. As a whole, caregiving is an overwhelmingly more positive experience than it is negative across both genders and care types. Yet women often report more tiredness and stress than men when providing childcare, while also experiencing more pain while performing adult care, as compared to childcare activities. Women of reproductive ages spend double the amount of care time associated with negative feelings, relative to men, most of which is spent on early childcare. We project a progressively widening gender gap in terms of positive feelings related to care in the coming decades. Future reductions in absolute caregiver well-being influenced by demographic changes at the population level may reduce workforce participation, productivity, and adversely impact psycho-physical condition of caregivers, if not offset by targeted policies.