December 2, 2023

author: Diana Elliott, A nonpartisan research organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of people around the world through evidence-based policy and practice.

The nursing economy and the role of nursing in both unpaid and paid work has recently come into the spotlight in the United States. 2021, proposed rebuild better plan It would have invested $400 billion in the care economy, including long-term care services under Medicaid, paid family and medical leave, and better wages for home and child care workers, but after some lawmakers equated it to socialism.recent executive order Integrating more supportive care policies into federal government spending has largely sidestepped political debate, but it affects a smaller demographic.

Why is Nursing Economics Important? one, America is aging but no nursing staff needed— Nursing home employees, home health aides — supporting the growing population of older Americans.On the other hand, childcare shortages and costs lead to It is more difficult for people to participate in the labor market. In short, a healthy economy depends on a well-functioning nursing work system. On this World Population Day, we’re looking at the state of the care economy in the United States and looking abroad for ways to strengthen it.

What is the current state of the U.S. nursing economy?

The lack of U.S. investment in the care economy may surprise international counterparts. In many rich countries, the work that family members do for young and old is backed by government investment. Among the 38 OECD countries, U.S. household investment spending (including child credit, child care support, paid leave, and single-parent payments) is just 0.7% of GDP In 2021, slightly higher than Turkey (0.5%) and Mexico (0.6%), well below the OECD average (2.1%).America is often rated as The world’s least child- and family-friendly rich countrieswith Bulgaria and Chile at the bottom of the list today.

This reduction in investment draws attention to how the value of nursing jobs in the United States has depreciated. Demographics may play a role; Women are overrepresented in unpaid and paid care positions. In 2019, 95% of early childhood educators in the U.S. are women and get paid on average, $14.22 per hour in 2022. Female-dominated occupations such as nursing work, lower wages than other occupations and due to the personal nature of the work May be considered less valuable than other jobs.Plus, unpaid care is costly for women; American moms Estimated average lifetime loss of $237,000 Give up paid employment to provide family care.

The economy of care will become increasingly important in an aging society

Long-term demographic changes in the United States suggest that the care economy should be a higher priority investment. In 2020, 55.8 million Americans are 65 and olderwith a growth rate of 38.6% in the past ten years, 41.8 million adults are informal caregivers for people aged 50 and over. As America continues to age, care for older adults will only increase over time.

At the same time, there is a shortage of home health and personal care workers (those who often care for the elderly) with no solution yet. Workers like this in 2021 Median wages are $14.15 an hour, and despite the current shortage of workers, demand is expected to grow 25% over the next decade.this There is a high turnover rate for these jobsEven before the pandemic, more than 30 percent of home health nurses were leaving their jobs each year.

estimate 38% of home health workers and 25% of personal care assistants in the U.S. are immigrant workers, suggesting that much of the future labor supply will depend on changes in immigration policy over the next decade. Even with recent proposals to increase immigration, U.S. grapples with immigration decline The pandemic and the restrictive policies of the previous administration. Right now, the outlook for more home health and personal care workers in the country is gloomy.

Although evident in the United States, the nursing crunch is not limited to that country and is becoming a global challenge.Overall, OECD countries will need a projected Long-term care workers will reach 13.5 million by 2040 to meet the needs of an aging population.Globally, there are Overall health workforce shortage projected at least until 2030, while Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East will face the largest gaps.partly because Rich countries are recruiting health professionals to meet demand.

What lessons can the United States learn from other countries?

Low fertility, long life expectancy and restrictions on immigration make Japan ‘the world’s policy laboratory’ It is dealing with an aging and shrinking population and the care and financial constraints that come with it. It is the oldest country, 30% of the population is aged 65 and over.

To take care of the elderly population, Japan has introduced a Long-term care insurance system, comprehensive community healthand even robot as a solution. But current nursing jobs require a workforce, and the workforce of the future depends on fertility.Japan is Plan to increase child care spending, Encourage parental leaveand Incentivize young families to migrate to rural areashoping to encourage people to have children and reduce the caregiving burden on young families.

EU countries are also paying close attention to Japan’s aging problem.One suggested solution is Accepting More Refugees and Immigrants, which will also increase the region’s young and working-age population.This year’s UK sets up 60,000 immigrant visas for first time For social care staff to staff nursing home Or provide people with home care—part of the solution to filling 150,000 unfilled jobs.although Immigration policy around the health workforce must be carefully managed So they don’t exacerbate already existing inequalities between countries, warns the World Health Organization.

The United States has been slow to develop viable long-term solutions to the economics of care challenges that its international counterparts have adopted. Given the caregiver shortage and aging population, the country will need more dedicated strategies to support the needs of young and old, and their paid and unpaid caregivers. The success of the economy as a whole (not just the economy of care) depends on it.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on PRB and republished here with source article.