Older Americans living in the community who need help with basic activities of daily living overwhelmingly rely on unpaid care provided most commonly by working-age family members, yet our knowledge of work-related opportunity costs of providing family care remains limited. This study assesses the impact of unpaid family caregiving on the likelihood of working and hours worked for caregivers, and calculates the related cost of forgone earnings today and in 2050. Results suggest that the cost is currently about $67 billion. By mid-century, it will likely more than double, outpacing the growth of disabled older population as the share of better-educated caregivers with higher earning capacity increases. Future policy action could benefit from accounting fully for the costs in addition to benefits of caregiving, which would help define better the scope and the size of programs needed to support caregivers.
Stipica Mudrazija is a Research Associate in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where he studies issues related to population, aging, retirement, intergenerational support, and long-term care for older adults in the United States and other developed countries. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. Before joining the Urban Institute, Dr. Mudrazija was a postdoctoral scholar at the Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging at the University of Southern California. Previously, Dr. Mudrazija worked as a Junior Analyst in the research department of the Croatian National Bank. His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes.
*This working paper was made possible by the US 2050 project, supported by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and the Ford Foundation. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors.