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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Fatina Siblini, Economics

Three Essays on the Labour Costs of Caring for Elderly Parents in Canada

Date and time
Date & time

September 13, 2019
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.


Room H-1154
Henry F. Hall Building
1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
Sir George Williams Campus


This event is free

Wheelchair accessible
Wheelchair accessible



School of Graduate Studies


Mary Appezzato

When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


This thesis consists of three chapters on the labour costs that workers face from caring for an elderly parent in Canada. The first chapter investigates the causal effect of weekly hours of care for one's parents or in-laws on the probability of being employed and hours of work of children caregivers. I use the General Social Survey (GSS 2012) of Statistics Canada and restrict the sample to parental caregivers and non-caregivers. To start, I treat caregiving as exogeneous. However, an endogeneity bias may arise if some individual’s unobserved characteristics are correlated with the hours of care variable and the employment outcomes at the same time. For instance, individuals who are employed may be expected to provide less care hours, either because they prefer market to home production or because of higher time costs. To resolve endogeneity issue, the paper uses instruments that are correlated with hours of care but do not affect employment of caregivers. The instruments used in this chapter are whether the child lives with a senior parent and the number of parents who lives with the child at home. Results show that a 10% increase in hours of care per week is associated with a 9.8 percentage points reduction in the probability of working for women caregivers compared to their counterparts’ non-caregivers, whereas for men sample, the reduction is 2.5 percentage points. Results also suggest that care hours reduce the estimated weekly hours of work, for both men and women. A 10% increase in weekly care hours is associated with a decrease in weekly hours of work by 9.8% for men, and 1.6% for women sample. These estimates suggest that helping a frail elderly parent at home carries considerable costs that should be considered by policy makers when designing and funding public long-term care programs.

The second chapter re-examines the same question in the context of different tasks of informal care: personal, chore, and intensive care. Helping frail parents with daily personal activities such as eating, bathing or toileting may require larger time commitments than helping them with chores. Moreover, personal care tasks are non-shiftable by nature because they are provided at specific times of the day. In contrast, chores, such as cleaning the house and shopping or other organizational activities, can be done through the day or week. Using the same cross-sectional dataset as the first chapter, the study restricts the sample to parental and non-parental caregivers. To control for potential endogeneity bias, I consider three commonly used instruments in the literature; the distance to care-receiver, the health status, and age of the respondent's care receiver. Findings show that women who provide intense and personal care reduce their employment probability by up to 43% and 68% respectively compared to other caregivers to non-parent. Moreover, men who help their parents with intense care reduce their employment probability by 9.42%. Findings also show that helping a parent has no significant impact on estimated weekly hours of work. In analysing the impact on retirement, among men, helping a parent with intense and personal care increases the probability of retirement by 7.35% and 11.5% respectively. Among women, only providing intense care increases the probability of retirement by 3.7% than otherwise non-parental caregivers.

The third chapter investigates the impact that parental caregiving has on retirement behaviour of caregivers in Canada and across Canadian regions based on Longitudinal International Study of Adults (LISA) from 2012-2016. The panel structure of the data allows me to use fixed-effect method to control for potential sources of endogeneity that arise from time invariant unobserved heterogeneity like preferences to care or work, ability to balance both activities, level of altruism and other hidden costs. To have a deeper look about the impact of parental care on retirement probability, I estimate three different intensities of care. The results suggest that it is the incremental effect of providing at least 20 hours of parental care per week that positively impact retirement decision. To further explore the effects across Canadian regions, I use a probit regression with lagged parental care variable. Results suggest that the association between parental care and the probability of retirement vary across Canadian regions. The findings of the paper show that in regions like British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario, where home care expenditures as a percentage of health care expenditures are lower than the national average, parental caregivers are more likely to completely or partially retire. While, caring increases the probability of retirement of parental caregivers living in Quebec by 6%, the effect is 5% in Ontario and 9.8% in British Columbia. Moreover, in-home parental care increases the probability of retirement by 10.5% in Quebec and 18.8% in British Columbia.

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