American Sociological Association

The Demography of Multigenerational Caregiving: A Critical Aspect of the Gendered Life Course

Multigenerational caregiving is important because it affects social and economic outcomes. Existing studies usually exclude theoretically and empirically important aspects—emotional care and horizontal care—that may systematically underestimate gender differences. In this study, we comprehensively describe caregiving by gender and age and examine how sensitive estimates are to the inclusion of directions and types of care. Using the Generations and Gender Survey (GGS) in Europe (N = 114,147), we find that women are more likely to provide care than men across the life course, and gender gaps are largest during critical periods for human capital accumulation. Significant gender gaps in favor of more women providing care are found in most countries, especially when emotional caregiving is included, but in some countries, more men provide care at the oldest ages. These findings highlight how measuring caregiving well is critical to understanding the gendered life course.


Sarah E. Patterson and Rachel Margolis



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