Health Effects of Spousal Caregiving Among Elderly Americans

TitleHealth Effects of Spousal Caregiving Among Elderly Americans
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsGarrow, R
Academic DepartmentDepartment of Economics
DegreeBachelor of Arts
UniversityWillam and Mary
Keywordsdepression, health, Informal care, Long-term Care

I examine the mental health and general health effects of providing informal care
for one’s spouse using data from the Health and Retirement Study in the United States.
Prior research has focused on children providing care for parents. In this paper, I provide the first analysis of these health effects among U.S. adults who provide care for their
spouses. Using propensity score matching, I find that caregiving leads to an increase in
depressive symptoms. Results are particularly strong and significant for female caregivers. I find that symptoms of depression increase with the intensity of caregiving. I
find no evidence that caregiving leads to worse self-assessed health. This research is
relevant to understanding the net benefit of informal caregiving in the context of the
U.S. healthcare system.

Citation Key10750