Long-Term Care of the Disabled Elderly: Do Children Increase Caregiving by Spouses?

28 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2008 Last revised: 25 Feb 2021

See all articles by Liliana E. Pezzin

Liliana E. Pezzin

Medical College of Wisconsin - Department of Medicine

Robert A. Pollak

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Barbara Steinberg Schone

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Center for Cost and Financing Studies - Agency for Health Care Policy & Research (AHCPR); Georgetown Public Policy Institute

Date Written: September 2008

Abstract

Do adult children affect the care elderly parents provide each other? We develop two models in which the anticipated behavior of adult children provides incentives for elderly parents to increase care for their disabled spouses. The "demonstration effect" postulates that adult children learn from a parent's example that family caregiving is appropriate behavior. The "punishment effect" postulates that adult children may punish parents who fail to provide spousal care by not providing future care for the nondisabled spouse when necessary. Thus, joint children act as a commitment mechanism, increasing the probability that elderly spouses will provide care for each other; stepchildren with weak attachments to their parents provide weaker incentives for spousal care than joint children. Using data from the HRS, we find evidence that spouses provide more care when they have children with strong parental attachment.

Suggested Citation

Pezzin, Liliana E. and Pollak, Robert A. and Steinberg Schone, Barbara, Long-Term Care of the Disabled Elderly: Do Children Increase Caregiving by Spouses? (September 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14328, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1267559

Liliana E. Pezzin

Medical College of Wisconsin - Department of Medicine ( email )

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Robert A. Pollak (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )

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Barbara Steinberg Schone

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