Meet the 'sandwich generation': Financially strapped Gen Xers helping out both their parents and their children
- Most members of "the sandwich generation" are Gen Xers, per a new Pew report.
- Sandwiched adults have a parent age 65 or older and either a young child or an adult child they've helped financially.
That's because many of them are part of what the Pew Research Center calls "the sandwich generation" — a microgeneration of adults "sandwiched" in between their children and an aging parent. About a quarter of US adults are part of this cohort, with more than half (54%) in their 40s and 36% in their 50s. Gen X, who turn ages 42 to 57 this year, make up the majority of this demographic.
Having a living parent at least 65-years-old while raising a child younger than 18 or helping an adult child financially, as Pew defines a sandwicher, can be a big burden. While not every person in this cohort is taking care of their older parents, many do find themselves in caregiving role.
Caregiving was an especially burdensome task during the pandemic, as parents had to homeschool children during remote learning and worry about their aging parents, who are in the high-risk group for coronavirus.
That's not to mention the financial strain of raising a child to the age of 18, which can cost more than $230,000 on average. In today's
According to the Pew Survey, most sandwiched adults in their 40s have at least one child younger than 18, but no adult children they've helped out financially. That flips for those in their 50s, most of whom have an adult child they've helped financially.
Such midlife commitments help explain Gen X's spending habits. An Xer household's average annual expenditures totals $75,087, compared to the $61,334 national average. They're in their prime earning years, at a life stage where people can't help but spend substantial amounts, and have more members in their household, meaning more mouths to feed and bodies to clothe.
No wonder the typical Gen Xer is generally pretty stressed about their finances, especially when it comes to credit card debt. But all the costs seem to be worth it, considering that the Pew survey found the sandwiched generation is more likely than other adults to say they're very satisfied with their family life (48% versus 43%).
It seems, then, that being part of the sandwich generation is a double-edged sword.
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