Looking into the “Caucasian Chalk Circle”: Workplace characteristics and workplace behaviour of informal caregivers. Findings form a large-scale empirical study of informal carers
Presenters: Ulrike Schneider, Vienna University of Economics and Business and Richard Muehlmann ,Vienna University of Economics and Business
Informal caregivers are an important resource in long-term care for the elderly. As demography changes, and with both female work participation and the age at retirement increasing, more relatives will be confronted with burdens originating from combining care and work. With forces pulling from different sides – like in the ancient Chinese parable, of which Brecht wrote the most famous adaptation, the “Caucasian Chalk Circle” – the question is how these competing demands affect the caregiver and his / her grip on work and care commitments.
This paper examines the previously underexplored relationships between caregiving responsibilities for older relatives or friends and workplace behaviour. More specifically, it takes a closer look at the determinants of stress experienced at the workplace and on how it is influenced by informal eldercare obligations. In doing so, we account for specific family characteristics, gender and occupational grade. Our analyses use 2008 data from a large-scale survey of informal carers and a control group study.
As literature has shown, combined exposure to a high level of unpaid eldercare and job strain creates a double burden which is likely to affect both caregiving arrangements and working life. Previous work on this issue has focused on middle aged women and the extent to which changes in caregiving commitment affect their participation in the labour market. Only a minority of studies addresses carers’ work arrangements and workplace behaviours in more detail. This line of work generally relies on a qualitative approach and firm-level case studies. By contrast, our work on the workplace impact of informal care embarks on a quantitative analysis of male and female caregivers.
Data and methodology:
Our paper is based on data from the Vienna Informal Carer Survey 2008 (VIC2008) on working caregivers and from a control group study of employees without caregiving commitments. The VIC2008 collected information from 3.036 informal carers who provide help to a frail older relative or neighbour in need of at least 50 monthly hours of long-term care. Our study uses a sub-sample informal carers from the VIC2008 who combined informal care and employment at the time of the survey and data for employees without eldercare responsibilities from a control group survey. We estimate a Tobit model on a total of 938 cases of employed informal caregivers and non-caregivers to analyse difference in perceived stress at work.
We find that the provision of eldercare as such decreases the level of stress experienced at the workplace, while the number of hours engaged in informal caring per week and the experienced care burden increase the stress level employees have to bear at the workplace. Work in progress looks into negative and positive spillovers from informal caregiving into the workplace in terms of absenteeism and presenteeism.
Authors: Ulrike Schneider, Birgit Trukeschitz, Richard Muehlmann, Ivo Ponocny
Session: Informal Care
Time: Mon 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.