Academic journal article Fathering

Men's and Women's Eldercare-Based Work-Family Conflict: Antecedents and Work-Related Outcomes

Academic journal article Fathering

Men's and Women's Eldercare-Based Work-Family Conflict: Antecedents and Work-Related Outcomes

Article excerpt

Role theory was used to develop a model examining the antecedents and work-related outcomes of eldercare-based work-family conflict. This model was then tested with a path analysis framework. Proposed antecedents to Family Interference with Work (FIW) include time spent providing eldercare, marital status, and gender. Proposed antecedents to Work Interference with Family (WIF) include gender, hours worked, flexible work arrangements, family-related supervisor support, and supportive workplace culture. The work-related outcomes explored were partial absence and intention to seek new employment. For this combined model, nine hypotheses were advanced, and four were supported. Next, the model was tested separately for men and women to begin to address the understudied question of how men's responsibilities as sons relate to their work-family conflict. For example, separate model findings suggest that supervisor support is unrelated to WIF, for men, and that work-family conflict is related to partial absence for men but to intention to seek new employment for women.

Keywords: work-family conflict, men in families, eldercare


Role theory (Katz & Kahn, 1978) was used in the present study to examine two different forms of interrole conflict. Interrole conflict occurs when "role pressures associated with membership in one organization are in conflict with pressures stemming from membership in other groups" (Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, & Rosenthal, 1964, p.20). Work-family conflict is a specific type of interrole conflict. Work-family conflict refers to the perceived incompatibility of role pressures between work and family so that participation in one role makes participation in the other role more difficult (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). Implicit within the definition are two types of work-family conflict, work interference with family (WIF) and family interference with work (FIW).

Our goal in conducting this research was to use role theory to introduce a conceptual model of the antecedents and work-related outcomes associated with the work-family conflict experienced by employed men and women who also provide care to the elderly. We recognize that family-related outcomes are also important and worthy of investigation; however, such outcomes were not included in the present study. Through this work, we sought to enhance the professional work-family conflict literature by specifically examining those employed adults who also provide eldercare. Additionally, we sought to enhance the literature on men's family responsibilities and work-family conflict by comparing elder-care providing men and women.


Several key changes in society are increasing the need to understand how employees balance eldercare responsibilities with work demands. First, the United States is undergoing a change in population demographics, with the elderly (specifically, those 80 years old and older) representing the fastest growing segment of the population (Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics, 2000). Unfortunately for many older Americans, "... with increasing age there is greater likelihood of disability and dependence" (Halpern & Deck, 1989, p. 10).

Second, women have traditionally taken on the role of primary caregiver within the family infrastructure, as evidenced by the statistic that 75% of all informal caregivers are women (Ettner, 1995). Yet the number of unemployed women available to provide care to an elderly friend, relative, or parent is on the decline. As women continue to have a dominant presence in the workforce and as the number of older Americans increases, the number of female caregivers balancing work and family responsibilities will inevitably increase. It is unclear at this point what ramifications these demographic changes might have for men. However, it is possible that men's eldercare provision will increase much as their child care provision has over the past two decades (see Coltrane, 1998). …

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