The demographics of the Sandwich Generation – those who care for both their children and aging parents – as well the financial responsibilities they face as a result of COVID-19— are changing.
The Sandwich Generation has become increasingly younger, more female and more diverse as a result of the pandemic. Also, these new members may face caregiving and financial challenges that are different than those of their Baby Boomer and Gen X predecessors, according to a report by New York Life.
Caregiving and COVID-19: How the Pandemic is Expanding the Sandwich Generation examines how the pandemic has changed who is part of the Sandwich Generation, their expectations for the future and the financial, physical and emotional impact caregiving is having on these households.
“As the Sandwich Generation becomes younger and the economic outlook remains uncertain, preparing for the unexpected becomes critical to achieving long-term financial security,” said Jeff Beligotti, vice president, head of Long-Term Care Solutions at New York Life.
This is especially true for Millennials, who are already making up a greater percentage of the Sandwich Generation while still managing the impact of the Great Recession on their early professional years. “This group has the greatest opportunity to improve their financial, physical, and emotional outlook for the long-term by developing a sound financial strategy now,” he said.
The report covers three issues:
Shifts in Caregiving Place the Burden on Women, Millennials and Emerging Majority Populations: When it comes to caring for both an aging parent and children, nearly two-thirds (64%) are women and over one-third (39%) are Millennials. Latinx caregivers (34%) are most likely to spend higher-than-average time providing care for loved ones, followed by Black caregivers (29%), and white Millennial family caregivers (20%).
The Financial Cost of Caregiving: On average, the cost of caring for an aging relative is about $1,000 per month, with 54% of those in the Sandwich Generation reporting spending more than usual per month to care for others as a result of the pandemic. Almost 7 out of 10 (69%) of Sandwich Generation members are paying for this care out of their own daily budgets; 40% are contributing less to their saving, 30% are contributing less to their retirement. While nearly half of the Sandwich Generation (46%) have $50,000 or more in investments, one-quarter (23%) have no financial investments at all.
Long-Term Expectations for the Sandwich Generation: Nearly half (48%) of all members of the Sandwich Generation expect to be in a caregiving position in some capacity for six or more years, yet one-in-four (22%) report they would need to adjust their financial strategies within the next 12 months. The research shows that those who reported feeling prepared to provide six or more years of care with no adjustments were more likely to be working with a financial professional.
“Members of the Sandwich Generation have always been stretched thin, but COVID-19 has undoubtedly exacerbated the stress this group is facing,” said Dylan Huang, head of Retail Annuities, Investment Solutions and Wealth Planning, New York Life. “Despite a wide gap between those who may be prepared to be caretakers for several years and those who may need to adjust their financial strategies sooner, the outlook is not all dark skies. This report shows that those working with financial professionals are able to improve their financial well-being and feel more confident about their financial solutions, their family’s future, and their own retirement.”
The data shown here is from a poll conducted July 22 – August 5, 2020 among 1,000 ‘Sandwich Generation’ adults (i.e., those caring for both children and an aging relative. The interviews were conducted online and results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Margin of error increases as sample size decreases.
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