How Do Families Allocate Elder Care Responsibilities between Siblings?

Richard W. Johnson, Urban Institute
Anthony T. Lo Sasso, Northwestern University

Adult children are important providers of care to their frail parents. Despite the attention focused on the high cost of nursing home care, most elder care is provided informally at home by family members. Yet little is known about how families decide which child will provide help. Do they delegate most responsibilities to children who are not employed, or do children drop out of the labor force when their parents become frail? Does the low-wage child bear a disproportionate share of the caregiving duties? Or does gender play a deciding role? This paper uses longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study to address these questions and examine the factors affecting the allocation of caregiving responsibilities between siblings. The analysis highlights the role played by each adult child's wages, income, employment, and competing family responsibilities in the caregiving decision.

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Presented in Session 62: Intergenerational Exchanges