We hypothesize, compared to other workers, (H1) adult workers who provide caregiving in their home are less likely to have retirement savings, and (H2) workers who provide care to someone residing outside their home are more likely to have retirement savings. We also hypothesize (H3) workers who care for someone in their home will report a lower dollar value of their retirement plans.
Methods: The 2012 cross section of the nationally representative National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), which is the most recent data collection that includes retirement savings for all adult household members, was used for this investigation. Standardized data collected by computer assisted personal interview (CAPI) from US workers were used to examine the variables of interest. The analytic sample included both male and female workers ages 48-55 in 2012. Multivariable logistic regression was used to analyze retirement savings by caregiving status.
Results: Our analysis found adult workers who serve as a caregiver in their own home are 30% less likely to have retirement savings compared to workers who do not provide care in their home. We also found workers who serve as a caregiver to someone who resides outside their home are 22% more likely to have a retirement account compared to all other workers. We also found among those with a retirement account, workers who care for someone in their home had a retirement account value more than 30% lower than the average for all other workers with retirement accounts.
Conclusions and Implications: Our findings extend past research which suggests workers who provide care in the home have a reduced number of hours available for paid work, and workers who provide care outside the home tend to have more resources and a reduced burden compared to those who provide care in the home. Of importance, we find the venue where care takes place is significantly related to retirement savings. Our findings reinforce the need for employment policies that will allow employees to provide caregiving and yet maintain employment and contributions to retirement savings. Access to paid sick days and medical leave that can be used for personal and family health issues could support employees who both work and provide care. Secondly, giving Social Security credits to full time caregivers while on family medical leave can further support retirement savings during times of intense caregiving.