The effect of informal care-giving on work in Australia

8 Mar 2017

Dr Ha Nguyen (Curtin Business School) and Professor Luke Connelly have produced new evidence on the effect of decisions by Australians to provide informal (i.e., unpaid) care to relatives and friends. Their study contributes to a fairly small literature on the dynamics of informal care. It examines the informal care provision choices of working age Australians, examining the impact of previous work characteristics (including work security and flexibility) on subsequent care provision decisions.

Their work distinguishes between care that is provided to people who cohabit and people who reside elsewhere, as well as between the provision of care as the primary caregiver, or in a secondary caring role. They use a dynamic framework of informal care provision that accounts for state-dependence, unobserved heterogeneity and initial conditions. For both males and females, they find the existence of positive state-dependence in all care states in both the short- and medium-term. Furthermore, the inertia in care provision appears to be stronger for more intensive care. They also find that previous employment status has a significant deterrent effect on current care provision decisions.

The effects on employment, however, differ according to the type of previous work, the type of care currently provided, and the gender of the caregiver. They also find that workers with perceptions of greater job security are nevertheless less likely to provide subsequent care. The results of their work also suggest that workers’ perceptions about work flexibility and their stated overall satisfaction with work actually have no impact on their subsequent decisions to provide care in any capacity.