Should I care or should I work? The impact of work on informal care

Publication type

Conference Paper


Population Association of America 2022 Annual Meeting, April 6-9, Atlanta, Georgia, USA


Publication date

April 8, 2022


This paper provides novel evidence on how a sharp increase in labour force participation among older women affects the provision of informal care to their older parents. Based on data from Understanding Society - the UK Household Longitudinal Study, we use an instrumental variable approach that exploits a unique reform that increased the female State Pension-age by up to 6 years. Our results provide evidence of a trade-off between the intensive margin of work and informal care provided outside the household: an increase of 10 hours of work per week reduces the provision of informal care by 2.1 hours a week, which amounts to roughly £2,100 of yearly care-hours lost. This reduction in caregiving is largest among women working in physically or psychosocially demanding jobs, and "sandwich" generation women who have both a living grandchild and a parent alive. Using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, we show that older parents whose daughters became ineligible to claim their pension experienced a significant reduction in the amount of care they receive from their daughters, which was not compensated by an increase in formal care or other sources of support. Our results suggest that policies that increase older workers’ labour supply require changes in long-term care policy that compensate for the loss of informal care.



Related Publications



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest