The contributions of America’s family caregivers, along with many friends and neighbors, often go unrecognized in public policy discussions about the financing and costs of health care and long-term services and supports. Yet these unpaid caregivers provide by far the majority of long-term services and supports received by persons with disabilities of all ages.
Not only are their contributions the foundation of the nation's long-term care system, but are an important component of the U.S. economy, with an estimated economic value of about $350 billion in 2006. Public policies to alleviate stress on caregivers could be implemented at a small fraction of the value of their contributions.
This AARP Public Policy Institute Issue Brief discusses the financial impact of caregiving on the caregivers themselves as well as the economic value of their contributions to society. It compares the economic value of family caregiving to other benchmarks in order to underscore the magnitude of these unpaid contributions, presents estimates of productivity losses to U.S. businesses from caregiving, and highlights the critical role that family caregivers play in the nation's long-term care system. (12 pages)