Abstract The aim of this paper is to disentangle the role of gender and partnership status in the caring commitments of older people (age 65 and over). Logistic and interval regression models are applied to individual records from the 2001 UK Census to estimate: (1) the impact of gender on the likelihood of being a carer; (2) the impact of gender on the hours of care provided; and (3) the impact of gender on the likelihood of being a carer for different groups defined by marital status. In the general population the share of women who provide care is higher than the corresponding share of men, but men have a higher probability of being carers among people aged 65 or above. This phenomenon is largely explained by gender differences in marital status. As older men are more likely to be married, and married people are more likely to be carers, we observe higher levels of caring among older men. Once differences in marital status are accounted for, the relationship between gender and care provision among older people is overturned. In particular, we find that, without controlling for household size, limiting long-term illness or marital status, the odds of being an informal carer are lower for older women than men [odds ratio (OR): 0.85; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.83-0.87]. Once these factors are accounted for, older women have higher odds of caring than older men (OR: 1.12; 95% CI: 1.09-1.15). Restricting the sample to care providers, and controlling for the same factors, it is shown that older women supply on average 3.77 (95% CI: 3.14-4.40) more hours of care per week than older men. Gender differences in the provision of care among older people disappear only when considering married individuals and adjusting for the presence of other household residents affected by a limiting long-term illness.