File this new Princeton study under: Things That Need to Change.
When it comes to caring for elderly parents, daughters provide as much care as they can, while sons contribute as little as they can get away with, according to study by Angelina Grigoryeva, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Princeton University.
Whereas daughters juggle their jobs and childcare with the amount of time they devote to elderly parents, sons’ care-giving “is associated only with the presence or absence of other helpers, such as sisters or a parent’s spouse,” says Grigoryeva.
According to the study, daughters provide an average of 12.3 hours of elderly parent care per month, compared to sons’ 5.6 hours.
“Sons reduce their relative care-giving efforts when they have a sister, while daughters increase theirs when they have a brother,” Grigoryeva says. “This suggests that sons pass on parent care-giving responsibilities to their sisters.”
Grigoryeva delivered her paper, “When Gender Trumps Everything: The Division of Parent Care Among Siblings,” at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting held recently in San Francisco. The study relies on data from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal panel study that surveys more than 26,000 Americans over the age of 50 every two years.
Grigoryeva says this disproportionate elder care negatively affects the psychological and financial well being of women.
“Providing care for elderly relatives can also impose significant financial burdens on caregivers in the form of direct expenses, as they often pay for goods and services for their care recipients,” she says. Although, “the U.S. has been gradually becoming a more gender egalitarian society since the 1970s, my study shows gender inequality remains acute when it comes to elderly parent care.”