Intergenerational Transfers of Health and Health Behaviors: Evidence from Informal Parental Caregiving

Fenaba Addo, Cornell University

Due to the aging of the U.S. population and extensions in life expectancy, a growing number of adult children find themselves in the precarious situation of caring for an aging parent. Many studies on the effect of informal caregiving on the caregiver’s physical health have been inclusive due to inconsistent or poor categorizations of caregiving from survey data. Using six waves of individual-level data from the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) from 1996-2006 and multiple questions for a respondent’s care to an elderly parent, I construct four caregiver variables: basic needs, intensive basic needs, financial caregiving and errands to assess the affect of informal caregiving on an adult child’s health outcomes: self-assessed health, weight gain, and high blood pressure, and three health behaviors: smoking, alcohol use, and vigorous exercise. Given these classifications, I then test the degree to which adult children trade their time or money for health information.

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Presented in Poster Session 5