Gender Gaps in Caregiving
There have been numerous reports detailing the gender gap among unpaid caregivers in the United States, most however, have focused on young families and the care they provide to their children. Recently, however, the Population Reference Bureau examined the gender gap in caregivers later in life to explore whether marital status and retirement made a difference in how men and women help others.
When it comes to men and women in caregiving, not surprisingly, there are distinct differences. Most elderly individuals – 65 percent – with long-term needs rely exclusively on family and friends to provide assistance. When it comes to who is providing the care, it is estimated that female caregivers spend 50 percent more time providing care than men. By devoting so much of their time to their caregiving duties, women often feel the pain in their pocketbooks by neglecting their careers. It is estimated that if unpaid caregivers actually received compensation for their work in the U.S., they would earn from $148 to $188 billion annually.
While women may be the ones providing most of their aging loved ones care, they are also the ones who require the most long-term care later in life. Women typically live longer than men, outlive their spouses and have less access to retirement savings or pensions.
However, the effects of providing care have a reverse effect on men, according to PRB. It is the men who do not provide care to loved ones who suffer the most. Men who do not help others may find themselves socially disconnected and are not as engaged in the meaningful relationships that are crucial to people later in life.
It was also found that more single men and women helped provide assistance to their friends, neighbors, loved ones and coworkers than individuals who were married. When it comes to household chores, more men than women reported helping their parents with household chores from yard work to repairs. The help the elderly receive
from their caregivers like shoveling snow and gutter cleaning provide a huge respite for the elderly, allowing them to remain in their homes for an extended amount of time as they can no longer keep up with the household tasks they once were capable of completing.
Men also tend to provide more help to others after they retire in all categories except emotional support. However, both men and women share the task of providing transportation to those who can no longer drive themselves, often accompanying friends and loved ones to doctors appointments or on shopping trips.