Webbläsaren som du använder stöds inte av denna webbplats. Alla versioner av Internet Explorer stöds inte längre, av oss eller Microsoft (läs mer här: * https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/windows/end-of-ie-support).

Var god och använd en modern webbläsare för att ta del av denna webbplats, som t.ex. nyaste versioner av Edge, Chrome, Firefox eller Safari osv.

Squeezed in Midlife : Studies of unpaid caregiving among working-age men and women across Europe


Summary, in English

Population ageing means that increasingly many are faced with the dual demands of paid work while providing unpaid care to older family members. Caregiving requires time and energy, with implications for paid work and well-being. The challenges faced by individuals add up and therefore also impact national economies. This dissertation provides insights into the implications of unpaid caregiving for working-age men and women across Europe in the 21st century. Consisting of four studies, it adopts a comparative perspective on European welfare regimes and gender, as women provide most care.

The first study provides an overview of how care for older people is organized between the family and the welfare state across Europe. It draws on macro-level indicators that reflect different contexts with implications for unpaid caregiving. Although many European countries can be characterized as dual-earner societies, few provide public support for addressing older people’s care needs so that family members are alleviated from the bulk of care responsibilities. Such support is high primarily in the Nordic countries and lowest in Southern and Eastern Europe.

Three studies draw on micro-level data to examine three different caregiver outcomes among men and women aged 50 to 64: labour supply, psychological well-being, and sickness absence. They address a gap in the literature that lacks a systematic focus on older working-age individuals. The trade-offs between caring for independently living parents and labour supply appear limited. Nevertheless, gender differences in labour supply and caregiving emerge particularly in Continental and Southern Europe. Results also show that caregiving relates to worse psychological well-being, especially among women in Southern Europe who care for a parent in their own household but also in Nordic countries despite a lower care load. This suggests that caregiver well-being depends on context. Lastly, caregivers have a higher risk of sickness absence, even when care intensity is low. Caregiver absenteeism is more common in countries with higher at-home care coverage and a lower gender gap in employment. This suggests that combining paid work and unpaid caregiving may be straining and raises questions about the adequacy of at-home care services.

While unpaid care for parents does not crowd out older working-age men’s and women’s labour supply, policymakers seeking to increase the labour supply of mid-life women should address gender differences earlier in the life course. The implications for well-being and sickness absence call for an ambitious vision for supporting unpaid caregivers. It is of key importance that care policy reforms consider the family members of older people in need of care, especially if more women are to participate and stay in the labour force.






Lund Studies in Economic History






Media-Tryck, Lund University, Sweden


  • Economic History


  • Unpaid caregiving
  • Care for older people
  • Labour supply
  • Psychological well-being
  • Sickness absence
  • Double burden
  • Welfare states
  • Gender
  • Europe




  • Comparative studies on unpaid caregiving in Europe


  • ISSN: 1400-4860
  • ISSN: 1400-4860
  • ISBN: 978-91-87793-89-9
  • ISBN: 978-91-87793-88-2


25 oktober 2022






  • Tine Rostgaard (Professor)