The strains and gains of caregiving: An examination of the effects of providing personal care to a parent on a range of psychological outcomes


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Social Indicators Research;114(2)



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This study explores the effect of providing regular help with personal care to a resident or non-resident parent or parent-in-law on different aspects of psychological well-being. We use cross-sectional data from the Norwegian Life Course, Ageing and Generation (LOGG) study (N ~ 15,000, age 18–79) and two-wave panel data from the Norwegian study on Life course, Ageing and Generation (NorLAG) (N ~ 3,000, age 40–79). We separate outcomes into cognitive well-being (life satisfaction, partnership satisfaction, self-esteem), affective well-being (happiness, positive and negative affect, depression, loneliness) and sense of mastery. Caregiver status is largely unrelated to these aspects of well-being, both in cross-section and longitudinally. One notable exception is that caring for a resident (but not a non-resident) parent relates to lower affective well-being among women, also longitudinally. This effect is more marked among unpartnered and lower educated women. In addition, caring for a non-resident parent is associated with a positive change in sense of mastery among women. The results reviewed and presented indicate that caregiving has less detrimental effects in the Nordic countries than in other countries, highlighting the role of social policies and care systems in shaping the impact of caregiving on well-being.



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