The opportunity costs of informal care: does gender matter?

J Health Econ. 2003 Sep;22(5):781-803. doi: 10.1016/S0167-6296(03)00044-4.


In this paper, we investigate the costs borne by both male and female carers in terms of their forgone formal employment opportunities. Traditionally, informal care was supplied by women but nowadays women are not only more likely to work, but also likely to be significant contributors to family finances. For women, this implies that the size of any forgone earnings cost of informal care is increasing. At the same time, population ageing is making for increasing numbers requiring care. From a policy perspective it is therefore helpful to consider a less traditional but nevertheless important source of informal care, men. We find that both male and female carers bear indirect costs in that they are less likely to be in paid work than otherwise similar non-carers and when they are in paid work they earn significantly less. However, we find that the motivation for lower employment participation is not the same for men as it is for women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Caregivers / classification*
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Employment / economics*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Home Nursing / economics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Men* / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Econometric
  • Motivation
  • Population Dynamics
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits
  • Sex Factors
  • United Kingdom
  • Women* / psychology