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Caring for mom and neglecting yourself? The health effects of caring for an elderly parent

  • Norma B. Coe
  • Courtney Harold Van Houtven

We examine the physical and mental health effects of providing care to an elderly mother on the adult child caregiver. We address the endogeneity of the selection in and out of caregiving using an instrumental variable approach, using the death of the care recipient and sibling characteristics. We also carefully control for baseline health and work status of the adult child. We explore flexible specifications, such as Arellano-Bond estimation techniques. Continued caregiving over time increases depressive symptoms and decreases self-rated health for married women and married men. In addition, the increase in depressive symptoms is persistent for married women. While depressive symptoms for single men and women are not affected by continued caregiving, there is evidence of increased incidence of heart conditions for single men, and that these effects are persistent. Robustness checks indicate that these health changes can be directly attributable to caregiving behavior, and not due to a direct effect of the death of the mother. The initial onset of caregiving has modest immediate negative effects on depressive symptoms for married women and no immediate effects on physical health. Negative physical health effects emerge 2 years later, however, suggesting that there are delayed effects on health that would be missed with a short recall period. Initial caregiving does not affect health of married men. Published in 2009 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.1512
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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
Issue (Month): 9 ()
Pages: 991-1010

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:18:y:2009:i:9:p:991-1010
DOI: 10.1002/hec.1512
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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  1. Heitmueller, Axel & Inglis, Kirsty, 2007. "The earnings of informal carers: Wage differentials and opportunity costs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 821-841, July.
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  5. Van Houtven, Courtney Harold & Norton, Edward C., 2008. "Informal care and Medicare expenditures: Testing for heterogeneous treatment effects," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 134-156, January.
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  12. Hirst, Michael, 2005. "Carer distress: A prospective, population-based study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 697-708, August.
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  16. David C. Grabowski & Edward C. Norton & Courtney H. Van Houtven, 2012. "Informal Care," Chapters, in: The Elgar Companion to Health Economics, Second Edition, chapter 30 Edward Elgar Publishing.
  17. Steven Stern & Maxim Engers, . "Long-Term Care and Family Bargaining," Virginia Economics Online Papers 320, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  18. Steven Stern, 1995. "Estimating Family Long-Term Care Decisions in the Presence of Endogenous Child Characteristics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(3), pages 551-580.
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