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Who Gives More Elder Care? Daughters or Sons?

Who Gives More Elder Care? Daughters or Sons?

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.”

Read more: Health, Aging, Caregiving, Children, Stress, , , , ,

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Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Lisa Kaplan Gordon, creator of, is an award-winning journalist, avid gardener and fly-fisher. She lives in Northern Virginia on a half acre that always needs weeding. Please visit her on Twitter (@kaplan_lisa) and Facebook (Lisa Kaplan Gordon)


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4:13PM PDT on Sep 2, 2014

It depends on the sons and daughters involved. My maternal aunt was totally incapacitated before being hospitalized and death except for her five senses of speech, hearing, taste, sight and touch. She had 2 daughters and 3 sons all adults and 3 who lived near her. Her two sons and one daughter took care of her with tenderness and love. Her daughter was in the last month of her pregnancy and then delivered her 2nd child. Her sons bathed her, fed her, changed her position, dressed her, brushed her hair, stayed with her around the clock for almost 3months . Even changing their hours at work so that at least one of them was with her at all times. They took their sick days, vacation days and any other days they could take off to spend taking care of her. They would hold the phone to her ear so I could talk to her every other day for at least 30 minutes. She told me with them holding the phone how she never thought the day would come when either of her sons would clean/bathe her private areas. She said she felt humiliated even if it were a female nurse much less her own sons. She cried and I cried and I told her just think of how much they love you. Love for her had them do this I said. Not money, valuables, property and/or any thing else like that just love and devotion to mother who was very ill and might be dying( she died). I told her to accept their care with grace and the spirit in which it was given. Those words I said to my aunt gave her peace she told me. At the time I li

3:40PM PDT on Aug 29, 2014

Like most elderly, I am a bit old fashioned and I'd have to be unconscious to allow my sons to sponge bath me!

11:07AM PDT on Aug 29, 2014

not good

8:58PM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

My sister and i check in on mom on a regular basis. My brothers (4) not so much and they live within 20 minutes. Sis is over an hour and I fly there.

4:42PM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

When it came to my Mum and Dad my youngest brother provided the most care. My sister lived in the same city and gave the least care. As a matter of fact, she's always looking for someone to take care of her!

12:25PM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Many thanks!!

11:14AM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Thank you

3:37AM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Can we count how much our parents give to us?

8:22PM PDT on Aug 26, 2014


8:14PM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

They needed research to support this obvious "finding"?

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