Working Papers

The Impact of Informal Caregiving Intensity on Women’s Retirement in the United States

Josephine C. Jacobs, Courtney H. Van Houtven, Audrey Laporte, Peter C. Coyte

With increasing pressure on retirement-aged individuals to provide informal care while remaining in the work-force, it is important to understand the impact of informal care demands on individuals’ retirement decisions. This paper explores whether different intensities of informal caregiving can lead to retirement for women in the United States. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women, we control for time-invariant heterogeneity and for time-varying sources of bias with a two-stage least squares model with fixed effects. We find that there is no significant effect on retirement for all informal caregivers, but there are important incremental effects of caregiving intensity. Women who provide at least 20 hours of informal care per week are 3 percentage points more likely to retire relative to other women. We also find that when unobserved heterogeneity is controlled for with fixed effects, we cannot reject exogeneity. These findings suggest that policies encouraging both informal care and later retirement may not be feasible without allowances for flexible scheduling or other supports for working caregivers.

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Paper Keywords

informal caregiving, unpaid care, retirement, United States