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Caregivers Juggle Responsibilities, Squeeze Themselves

Many middle-age women shortchange their own pensions in process

FRIDAY, Dec. 6, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Many women in the prime of their life are often caring too much for others and not enough for themselves, a new British study suggests.

Those who juggle too many roles in midlife -- parent, worker, family caregiver and spouse -- may have reduced income and less opportunity to build sufficient pensions to support themselves in retirement, the research found. Women are hit hardest in these situations, says the study, part of the Growing Older Programme funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Just over half of women aged 45-59 had paid into a private pension fund, compared to 75 percent of men. Even the women who paid into a private pension fund were lagging behind men.

Their average contributions totaled 13 years, compared to 21 years for men.

The researchers say private pensions are increasingly important as the real value of government pensions declines.

The study reports that many women found it difficult to balance being a family caregiver with their work. One in five women who became a caregiver gave up work, and another one in five said they reduced their working hours, earned less money or worked only restricted hours.

Both men and women who stopped work were less likely to be part of an occupational pension plan.

The researchers argue that government needs to correct wage and pension problems experienced by people who are forced to become family caregivers. That assistance could be similar to that provided to people who take parental leave to look after their children.

More information

The AARP has information about retirement planning.

SOURCE: Economic and Social Research Council, news release, Dec. 6, 2002
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