Middle-aged caregivers keep their jobs according to SAGE publications' Research on Aging article

April 25, 2006

In a workforce that is increasingly female and aging, middle-aged women who become caregivers for ill or disabled family members are more likely to leave their jobs altogether than reduce their hours, according to a new Indiana University study, which found that unpaid family leave, of all family-friendly benefits, proved most useful in helping caregivers keep their jobs. An article in the most recent issue of SAGE Publications' Research on Aging summarizes the data.

The article, titled "Combining Care Work and Paid Work: Do Workplace Policies Make a Difference?" is published in the May issue and explores research funded by the National Institute on Aging, by sociologists Eliza Pavalko and Kathryn Henderson.

The study, which drew from the responses of over 2,000 women, over a six-year period, sought to determine whether midlife women were more likely to leave the labor force once they began care work and whether workplace policies really mattered to them. It was found that, while access to family-friendly benefits such as flexible hours and paid vacation and sick days helped middle-aged women remain employed, only unpaid leave made a significant difference for caregivers. None of the benefits, Pavalko notes, eased the caregivers' psychological distress.

"Despite growing attention to family-friendly policies in the workplace, we know surprisingly little about whether they help families manage the burden of care work," Pavalko said. "Employers may be interested to find that the relatively inexpensive benefit of unpaid family leave is so effective for reducing employee turnover."
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"Combining Care Work and Paid Work: Do Workplace Policies Make a Difference?" is available at http://roa.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/28/3/359.

To speak with Eliza Pavalko, contact Tracy James, 812-855-0084/ traljame@indiana.edu.

SAGE Publications (www.sagepublications.com) is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students. SAGE Publications, a privately owned corporation, has principal offices in Thousand Oaks, California, London, United Kingdom, and in New Delhi, India.

For over two decades, Research On Aging has provided the latest analyses on the critical issues facing today's elderly population. This outstanding journal serves as an international forum on the aged and the ageing process, providing you with the knowledge you need to help improve the practices and policies concerning the elderly. For more information, please visit http://roa.sagepub.com.

SAGE

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