Essays on informal care, labor supply and wages

TitleEssays on informal care, labor supply and wages
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsSkira, MM
AdvisorBeauchamp, A
Academic DepartmentGraduate School of Arts and Sciences
UniversityBoston College
CityBoston, MA
KeywordsAdult children, Employment and Labor Force, Healthcare, Methodology, Public Policy

This dissertation examines how caregiving for an elderly parent affects an adult child's labor supply and wages. In the first chapter (co-authored with Courtney H. Van Houtven and Norma B. Coe) we identify the relationship between informal care and labor force participation in the United States, both on the intensive and extensive margins, and examine wage effects. We control for time-invariant individual heterogeneity; rule out or control for endogeneity; examine effects for men and women separately; and analyze heterogeneous effects by task and intensity. We find modest decreases--1.4-2.4 percentage points--in the likelihood of working for caregivers providing personal care. Male and female chore caregivers, meanwhile, are more likely to retire. For female care providers who remain working, we find evidence that they decrease work by 3-10 hours per week and face a 2.3-2.6 percent wage penalty. We find little effect of caregiving on working men's hours or wages except for a wage premium for male intensive caregivers. In the second chapter I formulate and estimate a dynamic discrete choice model of elder parent care and work to analyze how caregiving affects a woman's current and future labor force participation and wages. Intertemporal tradeoffs, such as decreased future earning capacity due to a current reduction in labor market work, are central to the decision to provide care. The existing literature, however, overlooks such long-term considerations. I depart from the previous literature by modeling caregiving and work decisions in an explicitly intertemporal framework. The model incorporates dynamic elements such as the health of the elderly parent, human capital accumulation and job offer availability. I estimate the model on a sample of women from the Health and Retirement Study by efficient method of moments. The estimates indicate that intertemporal tradeoffs matter considerably. In particular, women face low probabilities of returning to work or increasing work hours after a caregiving spell. Using the estimates, I simulate several government sponsored elder care policy experiments: a longer unpaid leave than currently available under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993; a paid work leave; and a caregiver allowance. The leaves encourage more work among intensive care providers since they guarantee a woman can return to her job, while the caregiver allowance discourages work. A comparison of the welfare gains generated by the policies shows that half the value of the paid leave can be achieved with the unpaid leave, and the caregiver allowance generates gains comparable to the unpaid leave.

Endnote Keywords

labor force participation

Endnote ID


Citation Key6103