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Pitfalls of Caring for Elderly Parents: the economic and health-related pressures on caregivers (completed)

An aging population is likely to increase the domestic pressures for middle-aged workers in the form of care-needing parents.This project explores the gendered effect of parental care on sick leave absence among the middle-aged.

Caring for elderly parents


Trends in population ageing and a high absentee rate, in particular among women, represent fundamental challenges for the needs of workers in the foreseeable future. Women are seen as a potential source, both to increase the labour force participation and to decrease sick leave absence. This comes along with the fact that population ageing is likely to increase the domestic pressures for middle-aged employees in the form of care-needing parents.

There are no social programs in Norway targeted particularly at workers with care-needing parents. Employees in Norway are mainly entitled to unpaid leave to take care of parents. This is a financially difficult option for offspring who might therefore favour sick leave absence to avoid the economic pitfalls of caring for elderly parents.


This project will explore the interaction between family obligations, work-related factors and long-term care policy with special focus on the gendered effect of caring for parents on sick leave absence among the middle-aged. The project is organised along three main issues:

  1. the gendered effects of informal eldercare on sickness absence, the role of municipalities' eldercare policy
  2. if job characteristics or occupation can serve as a buffer on caretakers' sick leave absence
  3. the gendered health effects of reconciling work and parental care, a comparison between Netherlands and Norway. 

An additional ambition of the project is to inform policies that will support equal access to, fair consequences of, and a fair distribution of public benefit in this area.


A main asset of this proposal is the use of three rich datasets:

  1. NorLAG/LOGG surveys supplied with contextual data on municipalities (KOSTRA),
  2. Administrative register data, and
  3. The international dataset SHARE. The project provide rich data With information on sick leave spells from 1993-2010, indicators and measurements on care exchanges, labour force participation and work-related factors.

Project period

Sept. 2012 - Sept 2016

Funding scheme

The total grant award was for NOK 3 161 000.

Tags: Aging, sick leave, welfare, demographic change
Published Feb. 4, 2013 2:08 PM - Last modified Oct. 24, 2019 11:27 AM


Elisabeth Ugreninov, Project leader