Older Workers and Caregiving in a Global Context: A Theoretical Analysis of Pressures Towards Convergence and Differentiation

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Kate O'LOUGHLIN, The University of Sydney, Australia
Sue YEANDLE, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Janet FAST, University of Alberta, Canada
Judith PHILLIPS, Swansea University, United Kingdom
This paper develops a theoretical analysis which seeks to explain the range and variety of policy responses to the issues of work-care reconciliation for older workers. This phenomenon is increasingly studied and has become the central focus for policymakers and campaigners in diverse areas of the world as exemplified in the forthcoming special issue of Journal of Cross Cultural Gerontology. The introduction outlines the background to this development, showing the part played by population ageing, the rising proportion of citizens in advanced old age, increased female labour force participation and longer lives of people with serious illness/disability.

The paper’s main focus is on the range of policy responses to this issue, and the social, political, economic and cultural factors behind these. Developed initially by Fast and Yeandle (2014) in a policy publication comparing policy developments in Australia, Canada and the UK, the paper is in two main sections. Part 1 explores the conceptualisation of support for work-care reconciliation, as evidenced in policy and practice around the world. This highlights four types of response: rights and recognition of people providing unpaid care to others; financial support for their foregone earnings; workplace rights/support for working carers; and local provision of care services. A theoretical model is developed which explains how these types of support have emerged and relate to each other. Part 2 considers the extent to which responses in different jurisdictions tend towards convergence or differentiation, seeking to explain these in relation to cultural values regarding care and ageing, policy choices about funding support and political priorities in relation to gender equality.

The paper concludes with an assessment of the direction of change in work-care reconciliation policy and practice regarding older workers, setting out some still unanswered questions and indicating areas for future research and theorisation.