The Reconfigured Sandwich: A Fresh Look at Support from the Middle Generation

Joan R. Kahn, University of Maryland
Carrie Clarady, University of Maryland
Suzanne M. Bianchi, University of California, Los Angeles

Since the 1980s demographers have been aware of the potential emergence of a "sandwiched" generation — individuals caught between providing support to older parents while also supporting dependent children – but most studies have found only limited evidence of sandwiched caregiving in the U.S. In this paper, we use recent data from the Health and Retirement Study to take a fresh look at the concept of sandwiched caregiving for adults ages 55-69 in 2010. In addition to updating past trends in the flow of time, money and housing support to parents and children, we also consider a series of subjective measures of emotional support and affective ties using psychosocial measures from the HRS Leave Behind Questionnaire (LBQ). Taken together, these analyses help to reframe the topic of sandwiching to provide a richer, updated understanding of what family life is like for those in the middle of multiple generations.

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Presented in Session 168: Intergenerational Support and Caregiving