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Census reveals middle-aged women bear brunt of family caring

16 May 2013

1 in 4 baby boomer women caring as generation struggles with work-life-care balance

Pressures of caring for older, disabled and seriously ill loved ones are falling hardest on middle-aged women, new Census figures reveal[1].

At the age when they are at the peak of their careers, when their ageing parents are also starting to need support - 1 in 4 (24%) women aged 50 to 64 are now providing unpaid care. This compares with 1 in 6 (17%) of men of this age.

According to figures published today (16th May) by the Office for National Statistics, this number of middle aged (50-64) female carers has risen by 13%, to 1.2 million, in the last ten years. This is a sharper increase than the total number of carers which has increased by 11% to 6.5 million.

Heléna Herklots Chief Executive of Carers UK said: “Becoming a carer can turn your world upside-down and when that responsibility falls in middle age it can change your working and personal life irreversibly. Women who have struggled to juggle childcare and work are now also finding themselves caring for ageing parents - and sometimes also a seriously ill partner.

Without the right support, women are forced to leave work, or reduce their hours at an age where it is a real challenge to re-enter the work force when caring comes to an end. This brings serious consequences for their incomes and pensions, as well as a wider cost to the UK economy."

Overall the cost to the economy of carers giving up work is estimated at £5.3 billion[2] a year. Carers UK also points to the increasing challenge for employers as additional Census figures show that 1 in 8 workers are juggling work with caring for older or disabled loved ones.

[1] These figures apply to England and Wales only – Census figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland are published separately.

[2] Age UK, Care Crisis wipes out over £5.30 million from the economy.

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