The Real Cost of Unpaid Caregiving
A 2011 MetLife study on the cost of caregiving revealed some startling statistics. Namely, about a quarter of adult children, primarily baby boomers (who themselves are aging), are providing care and/or financial help to a parent.
For women, the total amount of lost wages due to caregiving exceeds $142,000. Lost social security benefits amount to $131,510, with an additional $50,000 negatively impacting pensions. MetLife calculated the total cost impact for the female caregiver at $324,044. That total amount for male caregivers comes to $283,716.
The findings indicate that there are significant financial implications of leaving the workforce or moving to part-time work in order to care for a family member. There are health implications as well – these adult children are more likely to have “fair or poor health” as compared to those who are not providing care to a parent.
A separate study sponsored by The Rand Corporation, with findings released late in 2014, places the total monetary value of “informal” caregiving by friends and family members at $522 billion a year in the U.S.
In addition to caregivers needing to understand the personal financial cost of caregiving, both the MetLife study and the Rand study agree that policymakers and employers must address this widereaching economic burden. Some of it can potentially be addressed with workarounds such as flex-time and family leave. The status quo will leave too many caregivers forfeiting hopes for their own financial security as they head for their retirement years.