Baby Boomer caregivers in the workforce: Do they fare better or worse than their predecessors?

This event has past.

Speaker: Jo Jacobs

Date/Time: October 3: 10 AM – 12 PM


Since the 1960’s there have been substantial increases in women’s labor force attachment. Meanwhile, a shifting focus to care in community settings has implied an increasingly important role for informal caregivers. In light of these changes and the unpaid leave policies introduced in the 1990s to reduce the caregiver-labor force participant role strain, it is important to assess whether the labor market outcomes of caregivers have changed over time. We explored the impact of caregiving on women’s labor force participation, hours of work, and wages and whether this effect was different for women in the Baby Boomer generation versus women born in the pre-World War II years. Using data from the American National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Mature Women, we followed two cohorts of pre-retirement aged women at similar points in their careers. We used pooled and fixed effects regressions. We found that intensive informal caregiving was negatively associated with labor force participation for both pre-Baby Boomers and Baby Boomers. Further, the caregiving effects were not significantly different across cohorts. Caregiving was not significantly associated with the hours worked or wages after controlling for unobserved heterogeneity. This study provides a first step in establishing that caregiving labor market penalties have persisted over time, despite the introduction of offsetting policies.


Jo Jacobs recently completed her PhD in Health Economics at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto. She is also a Fellow of the Canadian Centre for Health Economics. She conducts research in the areas of health economics, economic demography, and family economics. Most recently, she has focused on labour force outcomes and retirement decisions, with an emphasis on how these outcomes are impacted by informal caregiving and gender. Previous research has also explored how to quantify the effects of informal caregiving on government and private expenditures. Jo also conducts research looking at fertility decisions, with a focus on determinants of child bearing and contraceptive behaviour.