The time cost of care
Extensive small scale studies have documented that when people assume the role of assisting a person with impairments or an older person, care activities account for a significant portion of their daily routines. Nevertheless, little research has investigated the problem of measuring the time that carers spend in care-related activities. This paper contrasts two different measures of care time – an estimated average weekly hours question in the 1998 Australian Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, and diary estimates from the 1997 national Australian Time Use Survey. This study finds that diaries provide information for a more robust estimate, but only after one models the time use patterns in the days of carers to identify care-related activities, which diarists do not necessarily record as care. Such a measure of care time reveals that even people who offer only occasional assistance to a person with impairments tend to spend the equivalent of more than 10 minutes a day providing care. Most caregivers undertake the equivalent of a part-time job to help a friend or family member. Summing the average caregiving time provided by all household members reveals that over a quarter of Australian households caring for an adult or child provide the equivalent of a full-time employee’s labour, and another quarter work between 20 and 39 total weekly hours to provide informal care.
Volume (Year): 2 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
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Working Paper Series
258, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
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