In a recent New York Times Economix Blog, UMass Economics Professor Nancy Folbre examines care-giving in the United States. She argues that women most often find themselves in care-giving roles because of gender stereotypes and economic disadvantage. About 67 percent of care-givers are women, according to a recent survey, Folbre says.
[excerpt] Women face an economic double-bind. Taking more responsibility than men for the care of family members lowers their lifetime earnings and leaves them vulnerable, especially in the event of illness, divorce or widowhood.
Partly as a result, older women remain dependent on younger women for unpaid care. They have an economic stake in younger women’s sense of obligation.
The bittersweet result is that the social organization of care reproduces some aspects of gender inequality. And vice versa.