Volume 35 - Article 52 | Pages 1537–1548  

Lifetime probabilities of multigenerational caregiving and labor force attachment in Australia

By Elizabeth Anne Bardoel, Robert Drago


Background: An aging population has increased the prevalence of multigenerational caregiving (MGC), defined as unpaid care for an adult while having a dependent child in the household. Policymakers are simultaneously promoting labor force attachment in response to population aging, which may conflict with MGC status.

Objective: This research provides estimates of the probability of MGC status and its relationship to labor force attachment.

Methods: A balanced panel of respondents from nine waves (2005−2013) of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey data has been used to estimate point-in-time and lifetime probabilities of MGC status for women and for men, and rates of labor force participation and part-time employment prior to, during, and after MGC status.

Results: Few adult women (2.3%) and men (1.1%) report MGC status at any point in time. Estimated lifetime probabilities of MGC status are 57.1% for women and 34.6% for men, and rates are higher for women and men out of the labor force pre-MGC status. Comparing pre- and post-MGC periods, women’s labor force participation rises by an estimated 9 percentage points, mainly due to an increase in part-time employment.

Conclusions: A majority of Australian women and many Australian men can expect to take on multigenerational caregiving responsibilities during their lifetime. While long-term labor force participation is not reduced by these responsibilities, they may increase the concentration of women in part-time employment.

Contribution: Prior studies capturing MGC status are limited by age, gender, or are not longitudinal and our research note attempts to broaden our understanding of the impact of carer status.

Author's Affiliation

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Losing the female survival advantage: Sex differentials in infant and child mortality in Pakistan
Volume 50 - Article 15    | Keywords: child mortality, family, gender discrimination, Pakistan, sex differentials, son preference, South Asia, survival analysis

The question of the human mortality plateau: Contrasting insights by longevity pioneers
Volume 48 - Article 11    | Keywords: age, France, Gompertz mortality, mortality, mortality plateau, older population, parametric models, supercentenarians, survival analysis, trajectories

Internal migration and the de-standardization of the life course: A sequence analysis of reasons for migrating
Volume 46 - Article 12    | Keywords: Australia, Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA), internal migration, life course, sequence analysis

National estimates of kinship size and composition among adults with activity limitations in the United States
Volume 45 - Article 36    | Keywords: caregiving, disability, family, kinship

An age–period–cohort approach to disentangling generational differences in family values and religious beliefs: Understanding the modern Australian family today
Volume 45 - Article 20    | Keywords: age-period-cohort effects, Australia, family, generations, HILDA, religious beliefs, social change, values