Caregiving among Young Adults in Ireland

This report has been peer reviewed prior to publication. The authors are solely responsible for the content and the views expressed.

January 25, 2024
Attachment Size
Download PDF 1.79 MB

Care is fundamental to the fabric of social relationships and a significant proportion of the adult population is engaged in regular care for children and/or adults with illnesses or disabilities. Increasing attention internationally is being paid to the role of young carers (those under 18) and young adult carers (usually 18–25 years of age). However, much of the research conducted has been cross-sectional in nature and has focused on care for those with illnesses, rather than the full spectrum of care for others. This report draws on rich data on over 4,000 young people from Cohort ’98 of the Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) study to take a longitudinal perspective, documenting the profile of young adult carers at 17 and 20 years of age and exploring the implications of such caregiving for their wellbeing, relationships and educational pathways.

In this study, we address the following research questions: 

1. What is the profile of young adult carers, in terms of gender,social background, family size and structure, migrant status, urban/rural location, and own and parental illness/disability? To whom do they provide care and how much time do they allocate to caregiving? 

2. What factors predict young people’s caring at ages 17 and 20? 

3. How are care responsibilities associated with young people’s wellbeing, physical health and family relationships? 

4. How are care responsibilities at age 17 associated with the post-school pathway pursued at age 20 (higher education, further education and labour market entry), controlling for other factors?

 Does a care role constrain postschool choices, either directly through ongoing involvement in care, or indirectly via a potential effect on academic performance?