Employment and Health Consequences of Care-Giving for Older Workers in Australia

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:15 AM
Room: Booth 40
Oral Presentation
Vanessa LOH , University of Sydney & ARC CEPAR, Australia
Kate O'LOUGHLIN , Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia
In Australia there is continuing policy pressure on older adults to remain in paid work. For many, especially women, participation in paid work is undertaken in conjunction with providing care for sick, disabled or frail family members and/or grandchildren. Recent policy developments in Australia such as the National Carer Strategy Action Plan (2011-2014) articulate a commitment to ‘recognise and respond’ to the needs of carers including supporting their right to participate in social and economic life. To this end, the Fair Work Act Amendment Bill 2013 extends the right to request flexible working arrangements to mature-age workers over 55 and workers with added caring responsibilities. At the same time, The Australian Human Rights Commission Report ‘Investing in care: Recognising and valuing those who care’ (2013) acknowledges the potential disadvantages, particularly for women, associated with unpaid caring responsibilities and the impact on workforce participation, retirement income and health.

This paper explores the relationship between paid work and care-giving, with a particular focus on Australia’s early baby boomer cohort and the gendered nature of care-giving. Analysis of longitudinal data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey indicates that being female, having a health condition, higher education, being partnered, and being engaged in paid work and care-giving in 2002 increase the odds of engagement in concurrent activities in 2010 relative to engagement in paid work only. The finding that prior engagement is consistently related to future engagement in the same activity eight years later highlights the value of examining engagement over a longer time period. These findings will be interpreted within Australia’s policy context and the potential employment and health related consequences of care-giving on those providing the care, their families, employers and the community.