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Why Care? Social Norms, Relative Income and the Supply of Unpaid Care

  • Marina Della Giusta


    (Department of Economics, University of Reading)

  • Nigar Hashimzade


    (Department of Economics, University of Reading)

  • Sarah Jewell


    (Department of Economics, University of Reading)

We focus on the role of conformity with social norms and concern with relative income in the decision to supply unpaid care for parents. Individuals have different propensities to be influenced by both relative income and social norms, and face a time constraint on the provision of both paid work (which increases their income) and unpaid care. We estimate our model with a sample drawn from the British Household Panel Survey to assess these effects empirically, estimating both the supply of unpaid care and the effect on utility of different preferences for relative income and unpaid care. We find that providing care decreases individual utility: long care hours are bad for carers (and care recipients). Women feature disproportionately amongst care providers and their motivations for care provision differ to men's, both in respect to the importance attached to relative income and to conformity with social norms. After controlling for other factors, men are more envious than women (attach more weight to relative income) and indi¤erent to social norms in relation to caring, whereas the opposite holds for women, so status races are bad for the supply of care within families and particularly men's supply. This is an issue as caring (in right amounts) can be good for carers too if they agree with caring norms, even when they prefer paid work to caring (as men do). We discuss implications for care provision and working arrangements.

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Paper provided by Henley Business School, Reading University in its series Economics & Management Discussion Papers with number em-dp2011-03.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: 05 Jul 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rdg:emxxdp:em-dp2011-03
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