Your adorable little princess might take better care of you during your sunset years than your son, if this new research in anything to go by. The research by a sociologist at Princeton University states that women provide as much elderly care as they can while men provide as little as possible.
"Whereas the amount of elderly parent care daughters provide is associated with constraints they face, such as employment or childcare, sons' caregiving is associated only with the presence or absence of other helpers, such as sisters or a parent's spouse," said study author Angelina Grigoryeva, in a press release. Her facts are based on data collected from the 2004 wave of the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study. This is a longitudinal panel study that surveys a nationally representative sample of more than 26,000 Americans over the age of 50 every two years.
She concludes that daughters provide an average of 12.3 hours of elderly parent care per month as compared to sons' 5.6 hours. "In other words, daughters spend twice as much time, or almost seven more hours each month, providing care to elderly parents than sons." She will present her research at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.
Her study also revealed interesting facts about how siblings from mixed-sex sibling groups handle the responsibility of elderly parent care. The study shows that gender is the single most important factor in the amount of assistance each sibling provides. "Sons reduce their relative caregiving efforts when they have a sister, while daughters increase theirs when they have a brother," Grigoryeva said. "This suggests that sons pass on parent caregiving responsibilities to their sisters."
But why are sons not as committed as daughters when it comes to taking care of their parents? It may be due to the consequences that elderly parent care-givers have to face, says Grigoryeva. "Numerous empirical studies report negative mental and physical health consequences, including a higher mortality rate, for people who provide care for elderly family members," Grigoryeva said.
Also, taking care of elders can result in significant financial burden on the caregivers owing to medical expenses and other associated costs. Loss of employment, career sacrifices, and reduced earnings are also issues that caregivers must deal with.
There is wide-spread gender stereotyping when it comes to caregiving for elderly parents and it is almost always falls on the shoulders of the woman. Earlier research has shown that the mental and physical hardships of caregiving for elderly parents impacts women more than it does men and the detrimental side-effects could have "potentially intensifying effects on a series of gender inequalities pertaining to health and economic well-being," Grigoryeva said.
While gender bias seems to be disappearing from other occupations, when it comes to caregiving, Grigoryeva says, “my study shows gender inequality remains acute when it comes to elderly parent care."
Source: Grigoryeva A.When Gender Trumps Everything: The Division of Parent Care Among Siblings. American Sociological Association's 109th Annual Meeting. 2014.