Informal caregiving and the allocation of time: implications for opportunity costs and measurement

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Informal care requires a considerable time investment from providers that inherently involves trade-offs against various uses of time. We examine what other uses of time are forgone when individuals provide informal care. We further consider how caregiving is linked to a range of rarely explored time use characteristics relating to multitasking, the fragmentation and the timing of activities. We use data from 5670 adults across 11003 diary days from the 2014/15 UK Time Use Survey. Using a ‘doubly robust’ approach of entropy balancing and regression adjustment, we find carers spend an additional 49.0 minutes on non-market work, 2.9 minutes on personal care, 5.8 minutes on leisure and 2.9 minutes on miscellaneous activities on weekdays. They spend 46.1 minutes less on market work and 14.4 minutes less on sleep. Carers report more time stress, more multitasking, and more fragmented time. We estimate with attribution factors that 16% and 11% of reported household task activity is due to caregiving on weekday and weekend days, respectively. These findings provide evidence on additional opportunity costs faced by carers and possible channels through which carer labour market and health outcomes are realised. The attribution factors we calculate can be applied to total reported caregiving time to avoid overestimation when this is incorporated into economic evaluations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Aug 2023


  • informal care
  • time diary
  • measurement
  • ageing
  • long-term care


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