Sandwich generation helping children more than parents

The sandwich generation is feeling increased pressure these days, but not as much from their parents as from their children, according to a new study by Pew Research.

son, father, grandfather

Today, it’s Gen X that is the most sandwiched generation – 47 percent of Gen Xers have a parent over 65 and a dependent child compared to 33 percent of Baby Boomers.

As the sluggish economic recovery continues, nearly three-fourths of adults in their 40s and 50s with a grown child provided some financial support to the child during the past year, and half of those provided full support.

Of adults age 60 and over, half say they have given their grown children financial support during the past year, as the rate of employed young adults fell to the lowest since 1948 in recent years. Young adults new to the work force also had a greater drop in earnings than any other age group.

On the other hand, only one-third of adults have provided support to an aging parent, according to the study that surveyed 2,500 adults in December 2012. One in seven provided financial support to both an adult child and an aging parent.

While sandwiched adults say they are pressed for time and feel rushed in the things they have to do, the study also discovered that adults helping their family members are just as happy with their lives as other adults. One-third said they are very happy with their lives, and half said they are happy.

The study found some other interesting facts about adults in the sandwich generation:

  • Men and women are equally likely to be members of the sandwich generation.
  • Hispanics are more likely than whites or blacks to be in the situation (31 percent, compared to 24 percent and 21 percent, respectively).
  • Married people outnumber single people 3 to 1.
  • Those with household incomes of more than $100,000 are more likely than lower-income brackets to be supporting family members.
  • Adults under age 40 are most likely to say an adult child has a responsibility to support an elderly parent in need (81 percent, compared to 75 percent who are 40-59, and 68 percent who are over 60).
  • Only half of the respondents believe a parent has a responsibility to financially assist an adult child in need.