Report looks at growing impact of caring on work

A new report from the Office for National Statistics highlights the growing impact of caring responsibilities on workers in later life.



Women are twice as likely as men to have caring responsibilities in the later part of their working lives and much more likely to drop out of work due to informal caring roles, according to a new report from the Office for National Statistics.

The report says nearly three in five carers in England and Wales are aged 50 years and over and one in five people aged 50 to 69 years are informal carers and that this is likely to grow as the population ages. It links caring responsibilities and policy drives to keep more people in work for longer to help support the increased costs of providing health and social care services and State Pension provision that an ageing population brings.

The report says that women are more likely to drop out of the workforce than men with caring responsibilities. It says that over two-thirds (69%) of men caring for a spouse are in work compared with less than one-quarter (23%) of women.

The report suggests this may be because of the traditional male breadwinner model and that men and women may have different views on what constitutes care. For example, it says men may be more likely to consider low-intensity, traditionally female roles such as housekeeping and cooking, which would have previously been done by their spouse and may not interfere with their ability to work, as caring.

The report also finds that women carers are more likely to work part time than men and says higher levels of part-time work may allow more women than men to combine work and caring and may explain men being less likely to work if they are carers. It also suggests that women may be more likely to provide care because they may have already interrupted their career for childcare reasons. It states: “Having previously adapted their life to care for children, women may be more likely to see the value in providing informal care and take up another caring role in later life, such as looking after grandchildren or caring for their own parents. There is also still a societal expectation for women, rather than men, to take on caregiving roles.”

The report looks at who does the caregiving now and what they do. It says most of the care that men provide is to their spouse or parents, whereas women are more likely to provide care to a broader range of people, including non-relatives.

Women are also more likely to juggle multiple caring roles, it states. Almost one-third (29%) of female carers provide care for multiple types of people, which may include people outside their close family, compared with one in five men.


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