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Sandwich Generation

Definition, Prevalence, International Comparisons, Impact On The FamilyConclusion

In the United States, from 1900 to 2000, life expectancy increased from 47 to 76 years. Similar improvements in the human life span occurred in other developed countries, such as Japan and Sweden. One consequence of humans living longer is an expanded population of older adults. This remarkable growth in the aging population has resulted in concern about the availability of family caregivers. Researchers consistently report that family members, especially female family members, provide the majority of instrumental and expressive care to their aging loved ones. Due to the social patterns of delayed parenting and increased female labor-force participation, a generation of middle-aged adults are becoming increasingly caught between the demands of child rearing and providing care to their aging parents. This trend, identified as the sandwich generation phenomenon, has become a topic of considerable research interest.

Although researchers disagree about the prevalence of the sandwich generation phenomenon, the demographic trends of delayed parenting and increased life expectancy are irrefutable. In order to accurately estimate the frequency of multigenerational caregiving and analyze the impact of this caregiving arrangement on the family system, a universal definition and more representative sample studies are needed.


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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaModern Marriage & Family Issues