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Does cancer in a child affect parents’ employment and earnings? A population-based study

Cancer Epidemiology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.canep.2010.08.002
  • Childhood Cancer
  • Chronic Illness
  • Cns
  • Earnings
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Germinal Cell
  • Leukaemia
  • Neoplasm
  • Parent
  • Economics
  • Medicine


Abstract Purpose: Cancer in a child may adversely affect parents’ work opportunities due to enlarged care burdens and/or altered priorities. Few studies exist, and possible effects on parental employment and earnings were therefore explored. Materials and methods: Data on the entire Norwegian population aged 27–65 with children under the age of 20 in 1990–2002 ( N = 1.2 million) was retrieved from national registries. Employment rates for parents of 3263 children with cancer were compared to those of parents with children without cancer by means of logistic regression models. Log-linear regression models were used to explore childhood cancer's effect on parental earnings for the large majority of parents who remained employed. Results: Cancer in a child was in general not associated with a reduced risk of employment, although some exceptions exist among both mothers and fathers. For employed mothers, CNS cancers, germinal cell cancers, and unspecified leukemia were associated with significant reductions in earnings (10%, 21%, and 60%, respectively). Reductions were particularly pronounced for mothers with a young and alive child, and became more pronounced with time elapsed from diagnosis. Fathers’ earnings were not affected significantly. Discussion and conclusion: Parents’ employment is not adversely affected by a child's cancer in Norway. Earnings are reduced in certain instances, but the overall effects are minor. Generous welfare options and flexible labor markets typical for Nordic welfare states may account for this. In line with traditional caregiving responsibilities, reductions in earnings were most pronounced for mothers.

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