Understanding the Psychological Health Effects of Combining Work and Parental Caregiving

by Adam Felts

AgeLab researchers Samantha Brady and Taylor Patskanick published a paper in The Journals of Gerontology Series B on how the roles of work and caregiving can impact psychological health, with attention to the influence of racial identity on outcomes.

The paper, titled An Intersectional Approach to Understanding the Psychological Health Effects of Combining Work and Parental Caregiving, used an intersectional lens focusing on gender and racial identity to understand how the combination of working and providing care may affect reports of depressive symptoms.

Longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study (2004-2018) were used to examine combinations of employment status and parental caregiving situation on depression scores among Black and White men and women aged 50-65.

Managing the roles of both work and parental caregiving is associated with greater depressive symptoms than only working, and with lower depressive symptoms than only caregiving, suggesting that paid employment exerts a protective effect on psychological health while parental caregiving may be a risk factor for depressive symptoms for people in midlife and later life.

The protective psychological effect of paid work for parental family caregivers was influenced by race as a variable. The protective effect emerged for white men and women, but not for Black men and women. These results are a reminder of the importance of accounting for race and other forms of social identity in research on family caregiving and other topics related to longevity.

Read more about the paper here.

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About the Author

Photo of Adam Felts
Adam Felts

Adam Felts is a researcher and writer at the MIT AgeLab. Currently he is involved in research on the experiences of family caregivers and the future of financial advice. He also manages the AgeLab blog and newsletter. He received his Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University in 2014 and his Master's of Theological Studies from Boston University in 2019.

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