60-Second Health

Graying Parent Care Falls to Daughters, Not Sons

Sisters spend double the time caring for parents as their brothers. Dina Fine Maron reports

Daughters of aging parents, be aware: you and your sisters spend twice as much time caring for your graying parents compared with your brothers: about seven more hours each month. That new snapshot of how adult children share parent care comes from a study by Princeton doctoral student Angelina Grigoryeva. She presented her research at a recent meeting of American Sociological Association in San Francisco. [Angelina Grigoryeva: When Gender Trumps Everything: The Division of Parent Care among Siblings]

The data originated from the 2004 portion of the Health and Retirement Survey, a national study that samples more than 26,000 Americans over the age of 50 every couple of years. The research reveals that women appear to provide as much elderly parent care as their jobs and family responsibilities will allow, while men’s caregiving decisions appear to be largely based on whether or not they believe a female sibling can shoulder the responsibility. 

Grigoryeva writes that the findings are particularly concerning since women already more often take on other “invisible” domestic work compared with men. Of course, not all families have children of both sexes. But as a rule, Grigoryeva writes, “Sons  reduce their relative caregiving efforts when they have a sister, while daughters increase it when they have a brother.”

—Dina Fine Maron
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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