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The Hidden Cost Of Caregiving
and the financial impact on women
Before we begin. I want to make sure I share with you that we will be making a few announcements in the coming days and weeks, launching our new website, and sharing more on our upcoming Care At Work Summit on October 26 in New York City. I am so excited, please make sure you read to the end for more details. Let’s dive in :)
Yesterday, I gave the opening keynote at the American Bankers Association on care at work, and why the workplace needs to support 73% of the workforce who identify as caregivers. During my research for this keynote, I ran into yet another interesting statistics that nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older). That is a big deal especially as majority of these workers are high-titled workers.
I wanted to learn more about how this crushing demand of care affected women especially. In today's society, women play a vital role in providing essential care to children and adults with care needs. However, a recent report sheds light on the significant economic costs that caregivers, especially women, bear in the process. I wanted to understand the financial burden faced by women who undertake caregiving responsibilities. From lost earnings to reduced retirement income, the implications are far-reaching and warrant attention.
The Price Tag of Caregiving:
According to the report, women who provide unpaid care to their minor children, parents, parents-in-law, and spouses (including unmarried partners) experience employment-related caregiving costs averaging $295,000 over their lifetime. These costs arise from various factors, such as reduced work hours, discontinuing employment, and limiting career advancement opportunities due to caregiving obligations.
Women who provide unpaid care to their minor children, parents, parents-in-law, and spouses (including unmarried partners) experience employment-related caregiving costs averaging $295,000 over their lifetime.
Lost Earnings and Retirement Income:
One of the most significant financial consequences for caregiving women is the loss of earnings. On average, lifetime earnings lost due to caregiving amount to $237,000, which accounts for 15 percent of what these mothers would have earned if they had not provided family care. Lost earnings constitute 80 percent of the total estimate of lifetime employment-related caregiving costs.
Additionally, caregivers face a reduction in retirement income from Social Security and employment-based retirement plans. The report reveals an average loss of $58,000 over a lifetime in retirement income. These factors further exacerbate the financial strain on women who dedicate themselves to caregiving responsibilities.
Unequal Distribution of Costs:
The financial impact of caregiving is not evenly distributed across the population. The report highlights that mothers with multiple children tend to incur higher caregiving costs compared to those with only one child. Similarly, well-educated mothers face higher lifetime costs, with college-educated mothers bearing an average cost of $420,000. The figures stand at $202,000 for mothers with a high school education and $122,000 for mothers who did not complete high school.
Furthermore, the report sheds light on the disproportionate impact on less-educated mothers and Hispanic mothers. For these groups, lifetime caregiving-related earning losses represent 26 percent and 19 percent of their potential earnings, respectively. Challenges such as inflexible jobs and insufficient income for paid childcare contribute to the difficulties faced by these mothers in balancing caregiving and employment responsibilities.
The Ripple Effect on Historically Excluded Groups:
While Black mothers incur lower employment-related care costs on average, the financial losses they experience can often lead to economic hardship due to relatively lower wages. Care-related employment losses can contribute to higher old-age poverty rates among Black and Hispanic adults, as well as adults with limited education. These findings underscore the importance of addressing caregiving-related challenges within minority communities.
Beyond Monetary Considerations:
The report reminds us that the cost of caregiving extends beyond financial implications. Caregivers also face out-of-pocket expenses, including childcare, paid care for older adults, and home modifications. Moreover, caregiving activities take a toll on caregivers' physical and emotional well-being, limiting their leisure time and self-care. Achieving true equity requires considering not only the monetary impact but also the distribution of household chores and caregivers' available leisure and self-care time.
Recognizing and addressing the hidden cost of caregiving is crucial for promoting gender equality and ensuring the well-being of caregivers in our society.
The report's findings emphasize the substantial economic costs borne by women who assume caregiving responsibilities. The financial impact, ranging from lost earnings to reduced retirement income, underscores the need for policies and support systems that alleviate the burden on caregivers, especially women. Affordable childcare, flexible work arrangements, and equitable distribution of household responsibilities are essential elements in addressing the challenges faced by caregivers. Recognizing and addressing the hidden cost of caregiving is crucial for promoting gender equality and ensuring the well-being of caregivers in our society.
Summer is summering, and the childcare crisis is unrelenting. A friend of mine who is a lawyer and mother of two had two babysitters cancel on her twice in the middle of a serious case she was presiding over. “Why is no one talking about the childcare crisis and how hard it is to find care so we can work?” I quickly reminded her that various organizations are, however, it will take more than that for parents to get relief in the coming months.
Where Is Dad?: Two months ago, I sat down with our friends at Employee Benefits News to talk about the need for men to step into care with my good friend Brian Anderson at Fathering Together.
What Happens When Summer Camp Doesn’t Work For Your Kid? The summer camp conundrum is an offshoot of the child care crisis, a problem exacerbated in America by the lack of any federal infrastructure to support parents of young children. The child care crisis has several branches but the most important is the lack of year-round federal support for children ages zero to five, too young to go to school. There are very limited options for school age children for childcare in the hours when school is not open, and the options for kids who can’t readily participate in group environments without additional support is even more limited.
How Childcare Subsidies Can Reduce The Gap Between Mothers’ And Fathers’ Career Paths - Career breaks during motherhood are a major driver of the increase in the gender pay gap over the child-bearing years. Research shows that childcare subsidies are the most effective policy for raising mothers’ labour supply, particularly among low-skill households.
A Four-Day Summer Work-Week Could Work: There is so much happening in the summer - raging heat, kids at home, and the need for vacation. A CEO tested out a four-day work week. Ultimately, the executive team wanted to reexamine their work culture and test whether more rest could revitalize productivity and morale during a season when employees everywhere are already less focused on work. According to digital media company Captivate Network, workplace productivity drops by 20%, attendance falls by 19% and workers are 45% more distracted between June and August.
How The Rising Cost Of Childcare Hurts Parents’ Job Stability: The increased costs of child care and lack of access to it is causing increased strain for caregivers and working parents nationwide. The cost of child care has increased 220% in the last three decades, according to Lisa Hamilton, president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Men are capable of care. And we are very proud of Rep Ruben Gallego for leading by example, and taking his parental leave. Way to America, now lets make this available to millions of Americans who have no access to paid family leave.
As American society shut down due to Covid, millions of women had to leave their jobs to take on full-time childcare. As the country opens back up, women continue to struggle to balance the demands of work and home life.
Kate Mangino, a professional facilitator for twenty years, has written a comprehensive, practical guide for readers and their partners about gender norms and household balance. Yes, part of our gender problem is structural, and that requires policy change. But much of our gender problem is social, and that requires us to change.
SAVE THE DATE! We are heading back to New York on October 26 for a full day or programming! The Care At Work Summit is a gathering of industry leaders, visionaries, and changemakers who are passionate about elevating care in today's workplaces. It's an opportunity to come together, exchange insights, and collaborate on strategies that will shape the future of work with care. We believe that by nurturing a caring environment, we can drive innovation, improve employee well-being, and foster sustainable business growth.
For more information, ERG and Company Participations, Sponsorships, and more, please send me an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org