To have children while taking care of parents: the sandwich generation

12% of families must take care of their children and of their parents at the same time, but the expenses are appalling and the subventions are lacking.

In America, having children is a luxury. According to the most recent data, an average family spends 13,000 $ approx. per year for each dependent child, an amount that grows exponentially if the parents need to entrust children under 6 to educational structures such as crèches. Overall, the annual amount spent for supporting one child can be over 15,000 $. A concerning situation that fails to stop.

In this context of difficult sustainability, there is a dimension that is frequently neglected but that strongly affects the evaluations of young adults regarding the creation of a family: taking care of ageing parents. Those parents who must support their children and, at the same time, take care of their fathers and mothers are defined as the “sandwich generation”.

A YouGov study clarifies to what extent this two fronts, on which those who are creating a new family must confront themselves, are pressing. According to the data of the study, 18% of families composed of millennials -namely persons who were born between 1981 and 1996- intentionally postponed the decision to have children or decided to have less children than they wanted to precisely in view of taking care of ageing parents. A data that is further increased by those who decide not to have kids at all, corresponding to 5%.

The result is that more than one millennial out of 5 is limited in the creation of a family by the difficulty of having to support, at the same time, his/her children and parents, thus having to meet quite intolerable costs. Costs that reflected themselves in life choices. Among the sandwich generation parents, 32% declared they have been obliged to make economic sacrifices and 28% of them stated that they had to renounce to career promotions.

According to the Pew Research Center data, the sandwich generation represents 12% of all current parents. Among them, those who are aged between 18 and 44 spend three hours per day taking care of their loved ones. It is estimated that, during the following years, the number of people over 65 years of age will grow exponentially and, at the same time, the age of those who decide to have children will rise, leading to the collapse of this care-giving system that is already extremely precarious.