Help to older parents and parents-in-law: does paid employment constrain women's helping behaviour?
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While concern has been expressed for some time about the impact of rising female employment on informal help to older adults, few studies have directly compared employed and not-employed women and only rarely has research utilized national, population-based samples. This article examines whether paid employment reduces the provision and/or the intensity of specific types of help offered by women to older parents and parents-in-law. Data were drawn from the 1996 General Social Survey of Canada and consist of a sub-sample of women aged 40 to 64 who had at least one parent or parent-in-law alive. The independent variable is employment status (full-time, part-time, not employed). Dependent variables are type of help (meal preparation, cleaning, home maintenance, grocery shopping, transportation, banking and money management, personal care) and intensity of help. Two additional types of help examined are emotional support and checking up or monitoring. The analysis shows that employed daughters and daughters-in-law are less likely than those who are not employed to provide help with banking or bill paying but no differences are found on other types of help. Employment status is not significantly related to the total amount of time spent helping older parents and parents-in-law, although not-employed women spend more time helping with meal preparation. Women employed part-time are less likely to provide emotional support to a parent or parent-in-law. There are no differences by employment status in the likelihood of checking up on or monitoring the parent's or parent-in-law's situation. It is concluded that, on the whole, in the domains measured in this study, employment does not reduce women's provision of help to parents and parents-in-law.
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