Caring for Mom and Neglecting Yourself? The Health Effects of Caring for an Elderly Parent

CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2008-89

42 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2008

See all articles by Norma Coe

Norma Coe

University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine

Courtney Van Houtven

Duke University

Date Written: October 3, 2008

Abstract

We examine the physical and mental health effects of providing care to an elderly mother on the adult child caregiver. We address the endogeneity of the selection in and out of caregiving using an instrumental variable approach, and carefully control for baseline health and work status of the adult child using fixed effects and Arellano-Bond stimation techniques. Continued caregiving over time increases depressive symptoms for married women and married men. In addition, the increase in depressive symptoms is persistent for married men. Depressive symptoms for single men and women are not affected by continued caregiving. There is a small protective effect on the likelihood (10%) of having any heart conditions among married women who continue caregiving. Robustness checks confirm that the increase in depressive symptoms and decrease in likelihood of heart conditions can be directly attributable to caregiving behavior, and not due to a direct effect of the death of the mother. The initial onset of caregiving, by contrast, has no immediate effects on physical or mental health for any subgroup of caregivers.

Keywords: CES-D, depressive symptoms, heart conditions, elderly parents, informal care

JEL Classification: I10, J14, D10

Suggested Citation

Coe, Norma and Van Houtven, Courtney, Caring for Mom and Neglecting Yourself? The Health Effects of Caring for an Elderly Parent (October 3, 2008). CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2008-89. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1288567 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1288567

Norma Coe (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine ( email )

423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Courtney Van Houtven

Duke University ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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