By Kathleen McGarry and Sean Fahle
The labor force participation rates of women have risen dramatically over the past several decades. Much has been made of the increase in the numbers of women with young children who are now participating in the labor market despite the demands on their time at home. At older ages, women face similar competing demands on their time in the form of care for elderly family members. Due to increasing life expectancy, women who are now in their 50s and early 60s are more likely than ever to have a living parent and are thus more likely to be at risk of needing to provide care. In this chapter, we analyze the prevalence of the provision of long-term care for a representative sample of women in their pre-retirement years and look to see how this caregiving affects employment. We find a significant positive trend across cohorts in the need to provide care and a significant effect of caregiving on work, with caregiving reducing the probability of work by just over 8 percent and the number of hours worked by 4 percent. Our cohort analysis points to a growing impact of caregiving over time and suggests that the lack of affordable long-term care options can have a substantial impact on employment rates.