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Caring for older parents in Norway - How does it affect labor market participation and absence from work?

Gautun, Heidi, Bratt, Christopher (2024) Caring for older parents in Norway - How does it affect labor market participation and absence from work? Social science & medicine, 346 . Article Number 116722. ISSN 0277-9536. E-ISSN 1873-5347. (doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2024.116722) (KAR id:105501)


As the population ages, younger generations will increasingly be called upon to provide informal care to their aging parents. To prepare for this development, it is essential to understand how employees combine the dual responsibilities of work and caring for aging parents. By analyzing data collected in Norway in 2022 from a nationally representative sample of 6049 respondents, aged 35 to 67, we investigated how caring for older parents affects labor market participation and work absence. We provide descriptive statistics and conduct analyses with structural equation modeling. These analyses indicated that caregiving had no substantial impact on overall participation in the workforce. However, employees did use work absences to assist their parents. We differentiate between using holidays, compensatory time, and three types of formal leave: paid, unpaid, and sick leave. More than a third of the formal leave was taken as sick leave. Women were moderately more likely to use work absence to care for their parents. We conclude that caregiving for older parents currently has little effect on work participation in Norway and attribute the favorable situation in Norway to its comprehensive public elderly care system. However, a contributing factor is Norway's generous sick leave policy. Although intended for use when employees are sick themselves, sick leave is used by employees to provide care to aging parents. Sick leave seems to act as a safety valve. To mitigate the effects of informal care on work participation, welfare states may create conditions that allow employees to combine work and informal care without resorting to unauthorized sick leave. A solution could be to extend the existing support scheme for employees with young children to those providing care for their aging parents.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2024.116722
Uncontrolled keywords: Child, Preschool, Labor marked participation, Female, Sick Leave, Sick leave, Older parents, Social Welfare, Absence from work, Norway, Humans, Parents, Employment, Family care, Child, Occupations
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: The Research Council of Norway (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2024 14:34 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2024 01:26 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Bratt, Christopher.

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