Nearly Half of the Sandwich Generation Report a Time They were Unable to Meet Essential Expenses Due to Costs of Caregiving, Finds Special Edition of New York Life Wealth Watch Survey
November 6, 2023 by New York Life Insurance Company
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–U.S. adults who are part of the Sandwich Generation, defined as those who care for both children and aging loved ones, are skewing increasingly Millennial and male compared to 2020, according to findings from a special edition of New York Life’s Wealth Watch survey focused on the Sandwich Generation. However, women caregivers continue to report carrying a greater emotional burden and spending more hours per week caregiving than men.
In 2023, the Sandwich Generation shows more balanced gender representation compared to 2020, and now includes Millennials, as the oldest Millennials are well into adulthood.
- The demographic profile of the Sandwich Generation is increasingly male compared to 2020:
- In 2023, 45% of self-reported caregivers are women and 55% are men.
- In 2020, 64% of self-reported caregivers were women and 36% were men.
- More Millennials step into caregiving:
- In 2023, 66% of self-reported caregivers are Millennials and 23% are Gen Xers.
- In 2020, 39% of self-reported caregivers were Millennials and 40% were Gen Xers.
- A quarter of Sandwich Generation adults are Hispanic in 2023, up from 15% in 2020.
- 87% of the Sandwich Generation provides care for an aging relative and a child under the age of 18 years old, but many are also caring for an older child (with 48% caring for a child over 18) or a child with a chronic condition (30%).
- Nearly half (48%) are caring for a grandchild (theirs or a family member’s).
- The Sandwich Generation is primarily supporting their aging relative by providing financial support (45%), running errands on their behalf (45%), and preparing meals (44%).
- For older children, caregivers are primarily providing financial and housing support.
“Our data show the demographic balance of the Sandwich Generation has shifted, as our population ages and more Millennials step into caregiving roles. As a society, we’ll need to consider how this is impacting our financial strategies and take action, especially as other challenges like student debt and inflation continue to impact not only how people spend, save, and work toward larger financial goals, but also their overall wellbeing,” said Suzanne Schmitt, Head of Financial Wellness at New York Life. “As it’s National Family Caregivers Month, we are revisiting the unique challenges and needs of the Sandwich Generation, as we did in our 2020 Sandwich Generation research, to continue the conversation about the realities of caregiving, its impact on wellbeing, and how best to support this group.”
Sandwich Generation adults report spending 50 hours per week caregiving, with women caregivers reporting a higher emotional and mental strain, and less financial confidence, than men.
- Sandwich Generation adults report spending 22 hours per week providing care for their aging relative and 28 hours per week providing care for child(ren) under 18. That’s 10 more hours per week than a typical 9-5 job.
- Almost half (47%) of Sandwich Generation adults say there was a time that their household was unable to meet essential expenses due to the costs of caregiving in the past 12 months.
- 90% of Sandwich Generation adults report making a lifestyle change or financial decision because of caregiving responsibilities.
- Cutting back on other expenses (34%), contributing less or nothing to their emergency savings (26%), and taking on more debt (26%) were the top reported financial changes.
- 95% of Sandwich Generation adults say that caregiving has impacted an area of their life with personal finances (47%), mental health/stress (44%), and their social life (44%) being the top areas impacted.
- Women caregivers feel less prepared to continue providing financial support long-term:
- While 72% of men say they would be able to afford providing the same level of care for their loved ones for at least another year before adjusting their financial plan, only 54% of women say the same.
- In fact, 14% of women say they only will be able to provide at most 6 months more of care (compared to 3% of men).
- Women are also more likely to say that caregiving has impacted various aspects of their lives than men, including their mental health/stress (50% vs 39%), personal time (49% vs. 37%), and romantic life (40% vs. 30%).
“Many Americans are not financially prepared for caregiving, which strains all areas of wellbeing and makes what can be a tough situation even tougher,” said Schmitt. “While the financial burden of caregiving could undermine any household’s financial security and confidence, the lifestyle impacts can be even harder to manage. If half of your time each week is going to caregiving, how are you able to prepare healthy meals, schedule appointments, proactively manage investments, maintain personal relationships, get enough sleep, feel focused and productive at work, and plan for a secure financial future?”
The financial picture for this evolving Sandwich Generation is complex.
Over half (51%) of the Sandwich Generation report they’ve made a sacrifice to their own financial security to provide care and nearly half (45%) report having credit card debt. However, becoming a caregiver has prompted this group to plan for their own long-term care needs with over 3-in-4 agreeing that the experience of caring for their aging relative led them to purchase or explore purchasing financial protection products. Forty-two percent say they are exploring options to prepare for their own long-term care needs and 83% are considering purchasing additional financial protection products either now or in the future – with life insurance (45%), long-term care insurance (42%), and income protection insurance policies (36%) being the top solutions in consideration.
- To manage caregiving costs, Sandwich Generation members are paying out of their own budget (41%), using the income from current employment of the individual(s) they care for (28%), and withdrawing from an emergency savings account/rainy day fund (28%).
- However, looking toward the future, they are expecting to pay for the costs of caregiving by paying out of their own budget (34%), working more hours/overtime at their current job (28%), or using the savings or retirement funds of the individual(s) they care for (27%).
- Among those with credit card debt, the average total debt owed is $12,662.33.
- 40% of the Sandwich Generation say they made a financial decision they regret due to mental strain from caregiving.
- Sandwich Generation members who have set aside money for their child(ren) to take care of them later if needed (42%) report setting aside $43,136.67 on average.
“As the Sandwich Generation skews younger, there’s an opportunity for Millennials to get a head start on building a strong long-term financial strategy, as the earlier people plan for their financial futures, the better. We are encouraged to see that becoming a caregiver has prompted many members of this generation to consider their own future long-term care needs,” said Jeff Beligotti, Vice President, Head of Long-Term Care Solutions at New York Life. “Millennials are finding themselves sandwiched between responsibilities like caring for aging parents and milestones in their own life journeys, like starting their own families, purchasing a home and saving for retirement. A trusted financial professional can help this generation navigate competing financial priorities and guide them towards considering tailored, protection-oriented solutions to safeguard themselves and loved ones now while strategizing for a prosperous financial future of their own.”
ABOUT WEALTH WATCH
Wealth Watch is a recurring survey from New York Life that tracks Americans’ financial goals, progress toward those goals and feelings about their ability to secure their financial futures, identifying key themes and trends that are emerging about topics like retirement planning, the role of protection-oriented solutions and the importance of financial guidance.
This poll was conducted between August 31–September 10, 2023 among a sample of 1003 Sandwich Generation adults and include those providing care to an aging parent and child(ren). The interviews were conducted online. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
ABOUT NEW YORK LIFE
New York Life Insurance Company (www.newyorklife.com), a Fortune 100 company founded in 1845, is the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States1 and one of the largest life insurers in the world. Headquartered in New York City, New York Life’s family of companies offers life insurance, retirement income, investments and long-term care insurance. New York Life has the highest financial strength ratings currently awarded to any U.S. life insurer from all four of the major credit rating agencies2.
1 Based on revenue as reported by “Fortune 500 ranked within Industries, Insurance: Life, Health (Mutual),” Fortune magazine, 6/5/2023. For methodology, please see https://fortune.com/fortune500/.
2 Individual independent rating agency commentary as of 10/18/2022: A.M. Best (A++), Fitch (AAA), Moody’s Investors Service (Aaa), Standard & Poor’s (AA+).