Data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health were used to study the order of events leading to informal caregiving and changes in labour force participation in mid-aged women, taking into account health and socioeconomic status. This analysis included 9857 women who responded to the third (2001) and fourth (2004) surveys and provided data for the caring and employment variables used. Caring was defined as providing care for an ill, frail or disabled person at least 7 h/wk. Between 2001 and 2004, the proportion of women caring increased from 12 to 14%. Paid employment participation decreased from 67 to 62% in 2004. Logistic regression model results show that taking up caring between 2001 and 2004 was not statistically significantly associated with employment status in 2001. Among women who took up caring, however, hours spent in paid employment in 2001 was negatively associated with hours spent caring in 2004. Amongst women working in 2001, taking up caring between 2001 and 2004 was associated with reduced participation in paid employment.
In conclusion, among mid-aged women, transitions into caregiving were irrespective of time spent in paid employment, but were followed by a decrease in labour force participation. Policies could aim to support continuing labour force participation during caregiving by creating flexible working arrangements; re-employment programs could support women who quit work in getting back to paid employment after a period of caregiving.