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Parents of girls, rejoice! Daughters are more attentive to elderly parents, study says

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As you get older, you can probably rely on your daughter - she'll take care of you.

A recent study shows that daughters are more likely to care for their elderly parents whereas men contribute to care as little as possible.

The research will be presented at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

According to the findings, daughters provide an average of 12.3 hours of care for their parents a month, while sons averaged 5.6 hours per month.

"In other words, daughters spend twice as much time, or almost seven more hours each month, providing care to elderly parents than sons," said Angelina Grigoryeva, study author.

This could lead to increased physical and mental stress from providing care and financial burden to the daughters.

The study used data from the 2004 wave of the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study to run analyses.

Researchers found that gender is the most indicative factor of amount of care for elderly parents in mixed-gender siblings. Grigoryeva said this suggests that sons tend to pass on the responsibilities of caring for their parents to their sisters.

This could stem from traditional gender roles of women as the caregivers. Men in turn, fill in gaps of parent care only when the sister or the parent's spouse cannot handle it on their own.

Grigoryeva said this gender inequality is significant as a result of some of the consequences of elder care to the caregivers.

"Numerous empirical studies report negative mental and physical health consequences, including a higher mortality rate, for people who provide care for elderly family members," Grigoryeva said. "In addition, these caregivers often have to balance elder care with employment, potentially resulting in career sacrifices and lower earnings. Providing care for elderly relatives can also impose significant financial burdens on caregivers in the form of direct expenses, as they often pay for goods and services for their care recipients."

Consistent with this, researchers have found in previous studies that women suffer from higher negative consequences from taking care of their parents than men do.

With the US moving toward a more gender-equal society, this study may shed some light onto an area that is typically overlooked. 

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