Three essays on the time use and well-being of retirees
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Once in retirement, retirees are no longer engaged in the labor market. Thus, they have more available time than non-retirees to participate in leisure and household work, such as child care for a grandchild or the care for a sick spouse or frail parents. Due to the ageing society and increased life expectancy, the demand for informal caregivers has rapidly progressed in recent decades. The U.S. health care system relies heavily on informal caregiving, and older individuals or retirees provide much of the needed help. While caregiving may be a rewarding experience, it can also be a stressful responsibility that impacts the subjective well-being of caregivers. Thus, sound knowledge about the impact of informal care provision on the well-being of caregivers is becoming more and more important. There is a growing literature of cross-sectional studies, which examines the effects of caregiving on the well-being of caregivers. In addition, most of the studies show that informal caregiving is associated negatively with the subjective well-being of caregivers. However, most studies ignore the issue of endogeneity caused by self-selecting into caregiving roles. This dissertation explores different subjective well-being measures while accounting for selection into caregiving roles. The first chapter investigates how caregiving affects the life satisfaction of retirees who are caregivers. Employing an instrumental variable approach to control for selection into caregiving, the results show that caring for household adults negatively affects the life satisfaction of retirees. However, caring for non-household adults is associated positively with the life satisfaction of retirees. Thus, policies which remove some of the burden of caring for household adults from retirees while encouraging their caring for non-household adults would increase retirees’ life satisfaction. The second chapter examines how caregiving affects the experienced well-being of retirees who are caregivers. The unpleasant index (U-index) is used as a proxy of experienced well-being. The results show that, controlling for selection into caregiving, both caring for adults and caring for children negatively affect the experienced well-being of retirees. This suggests that policies that remove some of the caregiving burden from retirees would increase their experienced well-being. The third chapter examines how caregiving affects life satisfaction of older individuals and retirees who are caregivers over time. Taking advantage of the panel structure of the data, fixed-effect logistic models are estimated separately by gender to account for omitted variable bias due to unobserved heterogeneity. The results show that caring for adults and caring for children over time both are associated positively with the life satisfaction of wives who are at least 50 or older. In addition, caring for children is associated negatively with the life satisfaction of both retired husbands and wives, while caring for adults is associated positively with the life satisfaction of both retired husbands and wives.