The increasing older population has undoubtedly impacted the need within families for caregiving support. In 2008, 17 percent of men and 28 percent of women 50+ were providing at least basic care to a parent. For this reason, MetLife conducted this study to determine the “economic transfers that can result from caregiving.” This cost to Boomers of caring for their aging parents is an important thing to uncover at a time when the caregivers themselves are getting older and should be preparing for their own retirement.
This MetLife study looked at the extent to which older adult children provide care to their parents, the roles gender and work play in this caregiving, and the potential cost of caregiving to the caregiver in terms of lost wages and future retirement income. Overall, it was concluded that at least 10 million adult children, age 50+, care for an aging parent, and that caregiving responsibilities may have a dramatic economic impact on both men and women through lost wages due to either reduced hours worked or leaving the labor force early, and diminished Social Security benefits or private pensions.
Other key study findings include:
- Around one-third of caregivers leave the workforce or reduce hours at work, and women are more likely to leave their jobs completely than to reduce hours at work due to caregiving responsibilities.
- Men who work part-time are more likely to provide care; however, men who work full-time are more likely to provide financial assistance.
- It is estimated that total wage, Social Security, and private pension losses due to caregiving could range from $283,716 for men to $324,044 for women, or $303,880 on average for a typical caregiver, which is a sizeable loss to caregivers’ retirement funds.
How to Use
This study points out the need for local government officials to provide caregivers with the best possible retirement planning information, as all caregivers need to be more aware of the long-term financial implications of leaving work or cutting back on hours to care for older parents. Additionally, it highlights the need for policies around paid family and medical leave that would benefit working caregivers. There is an essential need for flexibility in the workplace and in policies that would benefit working caregivers because it is likely that working caregivers will be approaching their own retirement while still caring for an older parent.
View full report: MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers: Double Jeopardy for Baby Boomers Caring for Their Parents – 2011 (PDF – 246 KB)