The so-called Sandwich Generation is caught between a rock and a hard place. Comprising people in their 40s and 50s, the Sandwich Generation find themselves responsible for both their elderly parents and their children. Unfortunately, this occurs during yet another challenging economic period. Many members of the Sandwich Generation can’t support themselves in the current economy, where full-time jobs with benefits are hard to come by. Some in the Sandwich Generation also still have minor children for which they’re responsible. Many of the minor children also include college age children, which is another financial strain.
At 47%, almost half of those from 40 to 59 in the United States are facing the challenge of supporting two other generations besides themselves. Out of that age group, just about three-quarters are providing at least some support to their adult children. What’s more, this generation has already weathered several financial setbacks. Many in the Sandwich Generation faced a difficult job market when they finished their education. Everyone in that age cohort dealt with the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009. That impacted their retirement savings, investments and in many cases, their incomes. Members of the Sandwich Generation are stressed and often feel their time is not their own.
People who feel the sandwich squeeze are more likely to have a higher income. This makes sense: people who are low-income struggle to support themselves, let alone other family members. It’s possible that adult children and elderly parents haven’t asked low-income middle-aged relations for support. Those in lower-income brackets may provide support other than financial to their relatives.
They might feel like they know that there’s no support available from them. When surveyed, members of the Sandwich Generation say they feel responsible for their aging parents. About 75% say that children should help their elderly parents financially. Only one-quarter say they don’t believe children have this kind of responsibility as their parents enter their golden years.
Some feel that this might be indicative of the way family relationships are changing. The Sandwich Generation feels closer to their adult children than their parents did. They also recognize that the world their children are entering is different from the landscape they faced. For example, the adult children of the Sandwich Generation are far more likely to live longer with their parents to avoid higher education debt and to establish a strong savings to purchase a home. Younger children feel the strain with parents balancing time between their family and feeling responsible for their again parents. This Sandwich Generation is getting caught in the crevice if the rock and a hard place.