Research project

Work-life balance, employment and caring responsibilities in mid-life

Project overview

This project combines qualitative and quantitative research methods to shed light on the issues surrounding caring responsibilities in mid-life. The family remains the main provider of social care in later life, with the likelihood of being a non co-residential family caregiver peaking in mid-life between ages 45-64. However, whether future generations of older people will be able to, or will wish to, rely on unpaid family care remains unclear. Furthermore, events such as the Covid-19 pandemic may change individuals' capacity to take up multiple roles.

This project will carry out quantitative longitudinal analysis of the 1970 and 1958 Birth Cohorts and Understanding Society data to investigate the complex relationships between paid and unpaid work across mid-life. It will investigate how work varies according to ethnicity, occupation and region and how multiple roles are associated with a range of outcomes including physical and mental health. Complementing this quantitative analysis, qualitative data collected through the Mass Observation Project (MOP) will be used to understand how recent demographic changes such as divorce and re-partnering, along with broader changes in society, have affected intergenerational relationships, contacts and feelings of obligations to kin.

The findings provide important insights into whether we will be able to continue to rely on informal carers as the main source of support for social care and inform policy discussions around work-life balance and extended working lives - both key areas of research interest for DWP.

This research project is funded through the ESRC Centre for Population Change Connecting Generations, directed by Professor Jane Falkingham. This research project is led by Professor Maria Evandrou with Professor Athina Vlachantoni, Professor Jane Falkingham, Dr Min Qin, Professor Alison Bowes (University of Stirling) and Dr Alison Dawson (University of Stirling).


Lead researcher

Professor Maria Evandrou FAcSS


Research interests

  • ESRC: Centre for Population Change (CPC): I am Co-Director of ESRC Centre for Population Change. My collaborative work focuses on a) Increasing longevity and the changing life course, and b) Understanding intergenerational relations & exchange. For more information, please visit the CPC website.
  • ESRC CPC - Connecting Generations: I am also Co-Director of the ESRC CPC-Connecting Generations research programme. The research will investigate areas such as changing intergenerational relationships; intergenerational flows of support in later life; and work-life balance, employment and caring responsibilities in mid-life. More information on the Connecting Generations research programme here.
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Other researchers

Professor Athina Vlachantoni

Professor of Gerontology & Social Policy

Research interests

  • Informal care provision and receipt
  • Unmet need for social care
  • Pension protection
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Dr Min Qin

Senior Research Fellow

Research interests

  • Intergenerational exchange
  • Population ageing
  • Later life health and wellbeing
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Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs