Americans with lower income and less education are more likely to be caregivers, says a recent Gallup poll, and even seniors who are 65+ are among the ranks of those providing care for others. A subsequent Gallup poll shows that the jobs of many are significantly affected by obligations from their caregiver status.
Gallup is conducting a three-part series on what it means to be a working caregiver in the U.S., and the first two polls have found diversity among American caregivers in terms of both socioeconomics and demographics, as well as financial implications derived from caregiving that result from missing work.
While only a small percentage of those under 30 are caregivers, 37% of American workers aged 30-64 provide care to others. And 16% of seniors aged 65 and higher are themselves giving care. The more than 2,800 self-identified caregivers surveyed, who also work at least 15 hours per week, report missing an average of 6.6 days of work per year.
This absenteeism costs the U.S. economy $25.2 billion in lost productivity last year, Gallup estimates. And, in addition to missed work, 24% of workers surveyed said caregiving keeps them from being more productive.
Workers with college degrees are less likely to be caregivers, at 15%, while 20% of Americans with only a high school education are caregivers, the poll found. In correlation, the number of caregiving Americans with an annual income of less than $36,000 is at 21%, compared to 15% of households making $90,000 or more each year.
This may be because higher-income households are more likely to be able to afford hiring a caregiver rather than filling the role themselves, says Gallup; or it could be because those with higher incomes and higher levels of education may be younger and thus less likely to be caregivers.
Previous Gallup polls have shown the toll caregiving takes on caregivers, as they have worse emotional and physical health compared to non-caregivers. Additionally, a recent MetLife study found that caregiving presents a $3 trillion drain on adult children who often miss work and thus make less money and contribute less to Social Security and retirement plans, and a 2011 AARP study says the amount of unpaid family care given in 2009 was valued at $250 billion.
Written by Alyssa Gerace