Caregiving a $3 Trillion Drain on Adult Children, May Jeopardize Retirement

A MetLife Mature Market Institute study shows caregivers, who increasingly belong to the Baby Boomer generation, lose an estimated $3 trillion in wages, pension, and Social Security benefits as a result of missing work to care for aging parents. The MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers says this can affect caregivers’ wellbeing and may even jeopardize their future financial security.

Researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Retirement Study to find that the percentage of adults who provide care for their parents has tripled since 1994 to more than a quarter of adult children, many of whom are Baby Boomers.

“Nearly 10 million adult children over the age of 50 care for their aging parents,” says Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., 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.”



Other findings show that caregivers aged 50+ are more likely to report fair or poor health; additionally, 28% of daughters assist their parents with basic care, compared to 17% of sons. Missing work in order to take care of aging parents results in lost wages and thus decreased pension and Social Security benefits, which takes a serious toll on caregivers’ ability to prepare for retirement. The study shows women losing an average of $324,044, and men an average of $283,716, for a total aggregate loss of $3 trillion.

MetLife says caregivers often leave the workforce or significantly reduce the number of hours they work, with women being more likely to completely leave their jobs rather than work less hours once they begin to care for their parents.


Timmerman says that as the number of caregivers in the ‘sandwich generation’ continues to grow, employers will be faced with a greater demand for help and support. MetLife suggests employers should address the need to provide retirement planning and stress management information, and says employers can assist employees with accommodations like flex-time and family leave.

The full study can be viewed here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace