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Do work and family care histories predict health in older women?


  • Benson, Rebecca
  • Glaser, Karen
  • Corna, Laurie M.
  • Platts, Loretta G.
  • Di Gessa, Giorgio
  • Worts, Diana
  • Price, Debora
  • McDonough, Peggy
  • Sacker, Amanda


Background Social and policy changes in the last several decades have increased women’s options for combining paid work with family care. We explored whether specific combinations of work and family care over the lifecourse are associated with variations in women’s later life health. Methods We used sequence analysis to group women in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing according to their work histories and fertility. Using logistic regression, we tested for group differences in later life disability, depressive symptomology and mortality, while controlling for childhood health and socioeconomic position and a range of adult socio-economic circumstances and health behaviours. Results Women who transitioned from family care to either part-time work after a short break from the labour force, or to full-time work, reported lower odds of having a disability compared with the reference group of women with children who were mostly employed full-time throughout. Women who shifted from family care to part-time work after a long career break had lower odds of mortality than the reference group. Depressive symptoms were not associated with women’s work and family care histories. Conclusion Women’s work histories are predictive of their later life disability and mortality. This relationship may be useful in targeting interventions aimed at improving later life health. Further research is necessary to explore the mechanisms linking certain work histories to poorer later life health and to design interventions for those affected.

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  • Benson, Rebecca & Glaser, Karen & Corna, Laurie M. & Platts, Loretta G. & Di Gessa, Giorgio & Worts, Diana & Price, Debora & McDonough, Peggy & Sacker, Amanda, 2017. "Do work and family care histories predict health in older women?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 84653, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:84653

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Didier Fouarge & Anna Manzoni & Ruud Muffels & Ruud Luijkx, 2010. "Childbirth and cohort effects on mothers' labour supply: a comparative study using life history data for Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 24(3), pages 487-507, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wels, Jacques, 2020. "The role of labour unions in explaining workers’ mental and physical health in Great Britain. A longitudinal approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 247(C).

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    JEL classification:

    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

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