Family Caregiving Costs Wallop American Wages, Social Security

Family caregivers who take time off to look after aging relatives are losing an estimated $3 trillion dollars nationally in wages, pension and Social Security benefits, according to “The MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers: Double Jeopardy for Baby Boomers Caring for Their Parents.”

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, according to the report, which was 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 researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Retirement Study 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, EdD, 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.”

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.

For men, the amount of lost wages due to leaving the labor force early because of caregiving responsibilities is smaller at $89,107. However, the impact on lost Social Security benefits is higher at $144,609. The same $50,000 impact on pensions was also added to the calculation.

The sample for the study was restricted to 1,112 men and women who had a living parent.

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