Objectives: This study examines the relationship between caring for older parents and the financial well-being of caregivers by investigating whether a reciprocal association, or vicious cycle, exists between female caregiver’s lower household incomes and caring for elderly parents.
Method: Data for women aged 51 or older with at least 1 living parent or parent-in-law were drawn from the Health and Retirement Survey 2006, 2008, and 2010 (N = 2,093). A cross-lagged panel design was applied with structural equation modeling.
Results: We found support for the reciprocal relationship between parental caregiving and lower household income. Female caregivers were more likely than noncaregivers to be in lower household income at later observation points. Also, women with lower household income were more likely than women with higher household income to assume caregiving at later observation points.
Discussion: This study suggests that there exists a vicious cycle of parental care and lower household income among women. A key concern for policy is female caregivers’ financial status when care of older parents is assumed and care burden when women’s financial status declines.