As part of PRB's 2010-2011 Policy Seminar series, Suzanne Bianchi, a University of California Los Angeles sociology professor, examined new research on caregiving in later life—a time when men and women may spend their time in similar ways as they enter their retirement years. The study, conducted with Joan Kahn and Brittany McGill of the University of Maryland, explored whether retirement and marital status made a difference in how men and women helped others. Specifically, they set out to learn whether men replaced paid work with time spent helping others after retirement and whether divorced people spent less time caring for kin, reflecting weakened family ties.
The findings shed light on the costs of caregiving and the quality of life of older people, according to Bianchi. While unpaid caregiving economically disadvantages women by keeping them out of the paid labor force, "there's a flip cost for men," she said. Men who do not help others may be "socially disconnected" and not integrated into the kind of meaningful relationships important at older ages.
Source: Population Reference Bureau