Daughters Are More Than Twice as Likely to Care for Elderly Parents


New research about elder care providers proves the old adage true: A son is a son till he takes a wife, a daughter’s a daughter the rest of her life.

According to a new study that looked at caregiving among adult siblings, it’s a matter of gender. Daughters are more than twice as likely than sons to care for elderly parents. And those who live within a two-hour drive are six times more likely to take on the responsibility.

In order to figure out what factors into the decisions of elderly caregiving, Dr. Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist at Cornell University, and his colleague J. Jill Suitor, a Purdue University sociologist, interviewed over 600 elderly people between 2001 and 2003 about what they expected in the future, if and when they would need care. They then checked back in seven years later to see how that turned out.

All sorts of personal history and relationship issues would factor into who wound up as caregivers, the researchers hypothesized. They figured it would be those children who were closest to their mothers emotionally, who had earlier received support from their mothers, and who had fewer competing demands on their time like work, spouses or children of their own.

Researchers found that mothers tend to have clear expectations about which of their children will care for them later in life—their daughters—and they are often accurate.

So it doesn’t really matter who has more shit going on or which child a parent is closest to. When it comes down to it, it’s implied that it’s a daughter’s responsibility.

Daughters (Still) Are the Caregivers [NYT]

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