Inequality and Care Worker Supply in OECD Countries

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Susan MCDANIEL, Prentice Institute for Global Population & Economy, University of Lethbridge, Letbridge, AB, Canada
Alex ZANIDEAN, University of Lethbridge, Canada
Paid care workers are often seen as filling a deficit, i.e. reduced capacity for care provision in families as a consequence of more women entering the paid workforce. Migrant care workers are thought to fill an additional deficit – in that fewer domestic workers are available to meet care needs. And care needs in the more developed countries (MDCs) for young, old and disabled are increasing with enhanced longevity and more women in the paid labour force. In this paper, one in a series from this project, we look closely at the role inequality plays in the potential supply of care workers. Relying on data from the Standardized World Income Inequality Database, the World Bank the OECD Health Statistics database, we ask with an array of measures, whether and how economic polarization is likely to lead to an increase in numbers of potential care workers in OECD countries. We focus on, and control for, youth unemployment, duration of unemployment, educational status as well as both market inequality and net inequality post-taxes and transfers. Our dependent variable is density of personal care workers per 1000 population. We find that net inequality is significantly correlated with care worker numbers/supply, but market inequality is not. It was theorized that educational levels beyond high school might negatively relate to care worker numbers, under the presumption that those individuals with more education might choose other careers for social mobility. We found, however, care work may represent a viable option for social mobility that sidesteps tertiary education. Not surprisingly, these relationships are stronger for women than for men.