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Inequality in the provision of unpaid care in England and Wales

Investigates the provision of unpaid care by males and females in England and Wales in 2011, and how this varied by age, region and economic activity

Females provided more unpaid care than males

In 2011, there were 5.41 million people who provided unpaid care in England. Of these, there were around 3.12 million females (58%) and around 2.29 million males (42%) providing unpaid care, representing 11.8% of the total female population and 8.9% of the total male population in England. In Wales a similar gender inequality existed, with 0.21 million females (57%) and 0.16 million males (43%) providing unpaid care. Of the total population in Wales, 13.8% of females and 10.6% of males provided some level of unpaid care.

Age of unpaid carers

The amount of unpaid care provided increased with increasing age. Those aged 50 to 64 provided the most care and this was also the age group with the greatest gender inequality with 24% of women aged 50 to 64 proving unpaid care, compared with 17% of men in the same age group.

Regional gender inequalities of unpaid carers across English regions and Wales

The largest gender inequality was in the North East with about a 4 percentage point difference between males and females, closely followed by Wales with about a 3 percentage point difference. London had the lowest gender inequality and also the lowest proportion of people providing unpaid care in England.

Inequality of unpaid care provision between economically active men and women

In both England and Wales economically active women provided more unpaid care than economically active men. Part-time workers in England provided the most unpaid care out of all of those people who were economically active, with 16.1% of women working part-time and providing some level of unpaid care. In Wales, economically active women in both part-time and full-time work provided the most unpaid care.

The impact on general health when providing 50 or more hours of unpaid care and working full-time

In England and Wales, women working full-time and providing 50 or more hours of unpaid care per week were 2.7 times more likely to have ‘Not Good’ health compared with those providing no unpaid care and in full-time work. The corresponding value for men was 2.4.

For the data behind this summary, as well as further details on unpaid care by age, sex, economic position and general health, please see the full report on 'The gender gap in unpaid care provision: is there an impact on health and economic position?'

Inequality in the provision of unpaid care

This is a short video looking at the inequality in the provision of unpaid care in England and Wales from the 2011 census

We will first look at the number and proportion of unpaid carers in England and Wales.

In England there were 3.12 million females providing one or more hours of unpaid care per week. This represents 11.8% of the female population. There were 2.29 million male unpaid carers in England which was 8.9% of the male population.

Looking at Wales, there were 0.21 million females providing unpaid care. This was 13.8% of the female population. There were 0.16 million male unpaid carers in Wales which was 10.6% of the male population.

Females make up 58% of the total 5.41 million unpaid carers in England. Males made up the smaller proportion of unpaid carers at 42%. Females make up 57% of the 0.37 million unpaid carers in Wales. Males made up the smaller proportion of all unpaid carers at 43%.

Moving on to look at gender inequality by age for England and Wales combined. For those aged 0-24, 2% of males and 3% of females were unpaid carers. In the age group 25-49, 8% of men and 13% of women were unpaid carers. In those aged 50-64 17% of men and 24% of women were unpaid carers. We can see that females provided more unpaid care in each age group and that the amount of unpaid care provided increased with increasing age.

Moving across, and using this map, we will look at the gender inequality in the English regions and Wales. Here females are in pink and males in blue. The English region with the lowest percentage of unpaid carers was London with around 7% of males and 10% of females. The North West had the highest percentage of males of unpaid carers at 10% whereas the  highest percentage of female unpaid carers was in the North West and North East  joint at close to 13% In Wales 11% of males and 14% of females provided unpaid care. We can see that in each English region and in Wales that females provide more unpaid care than males.

Moving on we will now look at the inequality in the provision of unpaid care amongst economically active men and women.

Firstly, we will look at England and full time workers. 9.3% of men working full time provided unpaid care, for women the proportion was higher at 12.1%. Now looking at part time workers, 12.5% of men provided unpaid care; the figure for women was higher at 16.1%. Finally, looking at the unemployed of which 8.9% of men and 11.1% of women provided unpaid care. We see that in England those working part time provided the most unpaid care of those who were economically active. We will now move across to analyse Wales where a similar pattern is seen. For those working full time 11% of men and 15.3% of women provided some unpaid care. For part time workers, the figure was 13.8% for men and 17.8% for women, and for the unemployed 9.9% of men and 12.1% of women provided unpaid care. In Wales as in England part time workers provided the most unpaid care and again it was women that provided the most unpaid care.

Finally, we will move on to health comparisons of full time workers in England and Wales. Comparing full time workers who provide no care with those providing 50 or more hours a week of unpaid care, we found that for women they were 2.7 times more likely to report ‘not good’ Health if providing 50 or more hours unpaid care. For men we found they were 2.4 times more likely to report ‘not good’ health.

That was inequality in the provision of unpaid care in England and Wales.

Notes:

  1. The 2011 Census forms (2.02 Mb Pdf)  asked whether respondents provided unpaid care to family members, friends, neighbours or others because of long-term physical or mental ill health or disability, or problems related to old age and for how many hours per week

  2. Some care is the combination of 1-19 hours, 20-49 hours and 50 hours or more categories

  3. ‘Not Good’ health was derived from those who answered fair, bad and very bad to the health question in the 2011 Census.

Categories: Population, Health and Social Care, Health of the Population, Disability and Self-reported Health, People and Places, People
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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