Aging, the family, and informal care of the elderly in the United States: 1987-2025

Marton, William Paul. University of Pennsylvania, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1994. 9521077.

Abstract (summary)

The aging of the large cohorts born during the years 1946 to 1964 (the "baby-boom" cohorts) has created concern about the future viability of the social security program and the costs associated with caring for an increasingly older population. While the public costs of caregiving are substantial, family members--spouses and adult children--provide the most assistance to elderly persons. This dissertation analyzes adult children's attitudes toward helping elderly parents and informal care of parents from 1987 to 2025.

A majority of adult children in the 1987/88 National Survey of Families and Households agreed that children should allow aging parents to reside with them when they become functionally disabled, and approximately 74% of the respondents believed that children should aid their parents financially. Black and Hispanic children were more likely than white children to agree to these types of assistance. Attitudes toward intergenerational assistance did not vary greatly by gender, although sons were slightly more likely than daughters to agree to the provision of financial assistance. However, daughters with only one surviving parent were much more likely than sons to care for a parent. And compared to adult white children, African-American children were slightly more likely to assist a parent; no significant difference was observed between white and Hispanic children.

The number of adult men and women with at least one surviving elderly parent is projected to rise from 57.9 million in 1990 to 98.5 million in 2025. Assuming that current age patterns of caregiving persist into the future, the number of adult children helping a parent will more than double over the thirty-five year period. The expected number of years that men and women care for a parent will also rise in the future. In 1987, the expected duration was 1.27 years for men; the corresponding estimate for women was 2.2 years. By 2025, the length of time spent helping a parent is projected to increase to 1.78 years for men, and to 3.01 years for women. Changes in the duration of caregiving are the result of gains in male and female life expectancy, and increases over time in the age-specific probability of children having surviving parent(s).

Indexing (details)

0938: Demographics
0351: Gerontology
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; caregiving
Aging, the family, and informal care of the elderly in the United States: 1987-2025
Marton, William Paul
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 56/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
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