Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care



December 2016

Informal caregiving and exit from employment among older workers in England 
[image reference is broken]

The latest paper from the renEWL project, available now in the Journals of Gerontology, explores the impact of caregiving on paid employment among older workers in England. Based on five years of data from Understanding Society, we show that older workers who enter a caregiving role are between 2.6 and 4.5 times more likely to stop working (in the following year).

We further identify types of caregiving that are associated with exit from work or reduced working hours. Full-time workers providing care within the household, or care for a partner/spouse, were more likely to stop working, compared to those not providing care. Among women, low-intensity care (<10 hours/week), extra-residential care, and care for a parent/grandparent were associated with reduced working hours. These findings have implications for ongoing debates around extended working, state pension reform, and social care provision in the UK. As the authors write:

  • An ageing workforce is expected to remain in work while simultaneously expanding the supply of informal care. Achieving these goals in parallel will require interventions that facilitate the combination of paid and unpaid roles.
  • Our results contribute to a growing evidence-base highlighting incompatibilities between caregiving and later-life employment.
  • Improving recognition and support for older workers around the onset of caregiving may reduce the likelihood of subsequent withdrawal from work.
  • Many governments are seeking to extend working life by raising statutory retirement ages, with considerable effect. In the United Kingdom, employment rates among those aged 50-64 years rose from 64.7% in 2006 to 70.7% in 2016. However, there is no equivalent policy lever when it comes to social care. The employment impacts of caregiving will depend upon individual, family- and work- related circumstances. Policy should reflect individual needs, with particular attention given to women and individuals combining caregiving with full-time employment.

The paper is available here (Open Access). For more information, please contact Dr Ewan Carr (ewan.carr@ucl.ac.uk).