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March 06, 2022

Generation X starting to join the sandwich generation: report

The share of U.S. adults providing financial support to both an elderly parent and a child has grown from 12% to 15% in the last seven years, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center.  

Longer life expectancy and delayed childbearing mean that more middle-aged people have dependent children and parents who are still living.

Today, 42% of Gen X has a dependent child and a parent age 65 or older, compared to 33% of baby boomers.

While the share of middle-aged adults living in the so-called sandwich generation has increased only marginally in recent years, the financial burdens associated with caring for multiple generations of family members are mounting.

Despite an aging population and increased longevity, the increased pressure is coming primarily from grown children rather than aging parents, Pew reports.

For years now, studies have noted a trend of more parents picking up more of the freight until their children are well into their 20s, but the faltering economy has caused those numbers to increase steadily in recent years.

Either way, supporting multiple generations can strain family finances. Close to a third of adults supporting both an aging parent and a child of any age say they're just able to make ends meet and 11% are concerned about meeting even basic expenses.

Nearly three quarters of 40-to-59-year-old parents of adult children have financially supported their children over the past year. At the same time, nearly one third of them have helped an elderly parent financially over the past year -- generally to pay ongoing expenses.

Are you part of the sandwich generation? Were you prepared for this role? Are things getting tighter as a result? 

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...