Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 245–263 | Cite as

Differences within Differences: Gender Inequalities in Caregiving Intensity Vary by Race and Ethnicity in Informal Caregivers

  • Steven A. CohenEmail author
  • Natalie J. Sabik
  • Sarah K. Cook
  • Ariana B. Azzoli
  • Carolyn A. Mendez-Luck


Among the 50+ million informal caregivers in the US, substantial gender, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in caregiving intensity are well-documented. However, those disparities may be more nuanced: gender disparities in caregiving intensity may vary by race/ethnicity (White, Black, and Hispanic) and socioeconomic status (SES). We used data from the 2011 National Study of Caregiving and applied generalized linear models to estimate associations between three measures of caregiver intensity (ADLs, IADLs, and hours caregiving/month) and the three sociodemographic factors with their interaction terms. Black female caregivers provided significantly higher levels of care than White females and males for both IADL caregiving and hours/month spent caregiving. Black caregivers spent an average of 28.5 more hours/month (95%CI 1.7–45.2) caregiving than White caregivers. These findings highlight the need to understand the complex disparities within population subgroups and how intersections between gender, race/ethnicity, and SES can be used to develop effective policies to reduce disparities and improve caregiver quality-of-life.


Informal caregiving Older adults Health inequalties Social determinants Intersectionality Race Gender 


Author’s Contributions

SAC conceived the topic, conducted the analysis, and wrote many sections of the manuscript. NJS provided critical text and references on intersectionality and contributed to the writing of the introduction and discussion. SKC created the figures and tables and provided critical feedback and editing. ABA assisted in the literature review used in the introduction and discussion and provided critical feedback and editing. CM provided critical text and references on the racial/ethnic disparities discussion and provided critical feedback and editing.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Studies, College of Health SciencesUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  2. 2.Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational ResearchNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.New England College of OptometryBostonUSA
  4. 4.College of Public Health and Human SciencesOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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