Abstract: The Effects of Paid Family Leave on Caregiving for Older Adults (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

The Effects of Paid Family Leave on Caregiving for Older Adults

Sunday, January 20, 2019: 11:15 AM
Union Square 14 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Soohyun Kim, MA, PhD Candidate, Columbia University, NY
As the U.S. population is getting older, the number of people who engage in elder care either as a care recipient or caregiver is expected to grow. Due to the changes in social norms and family structures, currently two in three family caregivers who take care of older relatives are in the labor force, mostly as full time. The declining availability of stay-at-home family caregivers, relative to the growing needs for elder care highlights the importance of policies supporting work-family balance for the caregivers. Although the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), enacted in 1993, provides time off for working caregivers, its utilization by caregiver is low since it is unpaid. Despite the bipartisan support, policymakers and researchers have not agreed on the optimal design of paid family leave. Research evidence on how paid family leave affects caregiving can help to close the differences in views. Literature on paid family leave rarely focuses on family caregivers with elder care needs and none of them examine the policy effect on caregiving. This paper studies the effects of paid family leave on the amount of caregiving among family caregivers.
Using the American Time Use Survey, a nationally representative cross-sectional dataset, and its 2011 Leave Module, this paper analyzes 5,544 wage and salary workers. Paid leave access is measured by access to any paid leave and the amount of caregiving is measured by any caregiving, time spent in elder care, care duration and frequency. The analytical strategy is to use OLS regression models that control for the demographic and employment characteristics of elder care providers (for any caregiving) and the characteristics of elder care (for time, duration, and frequency of care).
Results suggest that receiving any paid leave from employers is likely to increase any caregiving, time spent in elder care, care duration and frequency, although not significant. Subgroup analyses show that access to paid leave is associated with a significant increase in the probability of providing care for male employees and more time in elder care among employed caregivers aged 60 and over and working full time, largely due to the increased time helping a non-household member. The positive relationship between paid leave access and any caregiving is also found among employees with more education in a household without child care responsibilities, at a marginal significance level.
This paper finds a positive association between paid leave access and the amount of caregiving for older adults, particularly among full-time male employees and older caregivers. Although descriptive, the findings are important because these are the first quantitative estimates for elder care provision with regard to paid family leave. It can also contribute to our understanding of how paid leave policies work for a significant group of family caregivers. Lastly, these findings can be used as a useful resource to support the establishment of paid family leave in the US.