Is Provision of Spousal Care Associated with Wellbeing? New Evidence from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics

Vicki A. Freedman, University of Michigan
Jennifer Cornman, Independent Consultant

We use data from older couples in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to explore the circumstances under which caring for one’s spouse is associated with wellbeing. We explore a number of different definitions of care, drawn from both stylized time use questions and time diaries, and link measures to both evaluative (life satisfaction) and experienced (pleasant minutes yesterday; how happy during a particular activity yesterday) wellbeing. We find evaluative wellbeing varies significantly by care status, which suggests that household chores are not associated with lower well being but provision of care is. In contrast, although carrying out household chores is associated with lower experienced wellbeing for women, care to a spouse with a disability per se is not associated with less momentary happiness.

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Presented in Session 100: Family Ties and Well-Being over the Life Course