The Gender Divide On Elder Care

Andrew Sullivan —  May 15 2014 @ 9:27am

Kathleen Geier addresses it:

[W]omen are the majority of those who provide unpaid care for ill, disabled, or elderly friends and relatives. The burden of unpaid care work that women continue to shoulder plays a major role in women’s persistent economic inequality. Directly, there is the opportunity cost that comes when women cut back hours or drop out of the paid labor force to provide care; economist Nancy Folbre has referred to this cost as the “care penalty.” Indirectly, unpaid care work affects women’s compensation in the paid labor market. Research has shown that a portion of the gender pay gap is attributable to the fact that women with children are, on average, paid less than their otherwise identical counterparts. Another study found that working in a caregiving occupation is associated with a 5- to 10-percent wage penalty, even when skill levels, education, industry, and other observable factors are controlled for.

She calls the push for paid family leave occurring in several states “grossly underreported, even in the feminist media that you’d think would be most interested in them”:

Feminist issues around the body, reproductive rights, rape culture, and so on are always going to be sexier, and easier to sell to mainstream media outlets, than feminist issues around work. The carnivalesque appeal of a feminist demonstration like “Slutwalk” is obvious – but a “Shitwork Walk,” if one were to be organized, not so much. … Even within the spectrum of feminist care issues, care for the elderly tends to be neglected. Child care tends to be a happier burden; you’re nurturing someone at the beginning of life and seeing them grow and develop. But care for an elderly person occurs at the end of that person’s life. Instead of seeing them develop their abilities, you often witness them losing those abilities – a difficult and lonely process.

Previous Dish on the wage gap hereherehere, and here.