Americans who provide care for their aging parents lose an estimated
three trillion dollars in wages, pension and Social Security benefits
when they take time off to do so, according to "The
MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers: Double Jeopardy
for Baby Boomers Caring for Their Parents." Produced by the
MetLife Mature Market Institute in conjunction with the National
Alliance for Caregiving and the Center for Long Term Care Research and
Policy at New York Medical College, the study reports that individually,
average losses equal $324,044 for women and $283,716 for men. The
percentage of adults providing care to a parent has tripled since 1994.
The researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Retirement
Study (HRS) to determine the extent to which older adult children
provide care to their parents. They also studied gender roles, the
impact of caregiving on careers and the potential cost to the caregiver
in lost wages and future retirement income.
"Nearly 10 million adult children over the age of 50 care for their
aging parents," said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife
Mature Market Institute. "Assessing the long-term financial impact of
caregiving for aging parents on caregivers themselves, especially those
who must curtail their working careers to do so, is especially
important, since it can jeopardize their future financial security."
In addition, the study found that:
Adult children age 50+ who work and provide care to a parent are more
likely than those who do not provide care, to report that their health
is fair or poor.
The percentage of adult children providing personal care and/or
financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled over the past
15 years and currently represents a quarter of adult children, mainly
Baby Boomers. Working and non-working adult children are almost
equally likely to provide care to parents in need.
Overall, caregiving sons and daughters provide comparable care in many
respects, but daughters are more likely to provide basic care (i.e.,
help with dressing, feeding and bathing) and sons are more likely to
provide financial assistance defined as providing $500 or more within
the past two years. Twenty-eight percent of women provide basic care,
compared with 17% of men.
For women, the total individual amount of lost wages due to leaving
the labor force early because of caregiving responsibilities equals
$142,693. The estimated impact of caregiving on lost Social Security
benefits is $131,351. A very conservative estimated impact on pensions
is approximately $50,000. Thus, in total, the cost impact of
caregiving on the individual female caregiver in terms of lost wages
and Social Security benefits equals $324,044.
For men, the total individual amount of lost wages due to leaving the
labor force early because of caregiving responsibilities equals
$89,107. The estimated impact of caregiving on lost Social Security
benefits is $144,609. Adding in a conservative estimate of the impact
on pensions at $50,000, the total impact equals $283,716 for men, or
an average of $303,880 for male or female caregivers age 50+ who care
for a parent.
"These family caregivers, the celebrated members of the sandwich
generation, are juggling their responsibilities to their own families
and to their parents," said Gail Hunt, president and CEO of the National
Alliance for Caregiving. "There is also evidence that caregivers
experience considerable health issues as a result of their focus on
caring for others. The need for flexibility in the workplace and in
policies that would benefit working caregivers is likely to increase in
importance as more working caregivers approach their own retirement,
while still caring for their loved ones."
"As the percentage of employees who are caregivers continues to grow,
there will be greater demand on employers for help and support. There
are many workplace resources and programs that can be made available
that benefit all stakeholders since financial stress can negatively
impact physical health and workplace productivity," adds Timmermann.
The study contains implications for individuals, employers and
policymakers. It points out that employers can provide retirement
planning and stress management information and can assist employees with
accommodations like flex-time and family leave. Individuals, it says,
should consider their own health when caregiving and should prepare
financially for their own retirement. Policymakers are made aware of the
fact that more states are considering paid family leave, especially as
it is accrued through workers' compensation funds. On the federal level,
a voluntary long-term care insurance program is part of the Affordable
Care Act and will likely increase public awareness of the issue.
MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers provides
updated information first reported in two MetLife studies: Sons
at Work: Balancing Employment and Eldercare (2003)
and The MetLife Juggling Act Study: Balancing Caregiving with Work
and the Costs Involved (1999).
The study uses data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) conducted
biannually by the University of Michigan with funding from the National
Institute on Aging. First fielded in 1992, the HRS, a nationally
representative sample, surveys adults over the age of 50 and provides
extensive information on this population, including data on income, work
and health status, and whether respondents provide basic, personal care
and/or financial assistance to their parents. After cases with missing
data were eliminated from the 2008 panel, the sample was restricted to
1,112 men and women who had a parent living.
MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers: Double Jeopardy
for Baby Boomers Caring for Their Parents can be downloaded from www.MatureMarketInstitute.com.
It can also be ordered through Contact
Us on the MetLife Mature Market Institute Web site, or by writing
to: MetLife Mature Market Institute, 57 Greens Farms Road, Westport, CT
06880 or [email protected].
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National Alliance for Caregiving
Established in 1996, The National Alliance for Caregiving is a
non-profit coalition of national organizations focusing on issues of
family caregiving. The Alliance was created to conduct research, do
policy analysis, develop national programs, and increase public
awareness of family caregiving issues. Recognizing that family
caregivers make important societal and financial contributions toward
maintaining the well-being of those for whom they care, the Alliance's
mission is to be the objective national resource on family caregiving
with the goal of improving the quality of life for families and care
Center for Long Term Care Research and Policy, New York Medical
The Center for Long Term Care Research and Policy at the School of
Health Sciences and Practice, New York Medical College, was established
to engage in research, education and public policy development to
improve long term care for all Americans. The Center's work focuses on
health care disparities, health care needs and caregiving across the
lifespan and to promote fair and equitable financing of long-term care
in the United States. Research and analysis in this report is provided
by Peter S. Arno, PhD, and Deborah Viola, PhD with statistical support
from Qiuhu Shi, PhD. www.nymc.edu/shsp/CLTC/index.html