The Provision of Support Towards Multiple Generations

Maria Evandrou, Centre for Research on Ageing, University of Southampton
Jane Falkingham, Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton
Madelin Gomez-Leon, RECSM, Pompeu Fabra University
Athina Vlachantoni, Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton

There is limited evidence on the recent trends and characteristics of individuals facing care demands for multiple generations, the so-called ‘sandwich generation’, particularly in the UK. With the large generation of baby-boomers entering mid- and later life and an increasing number of families spreading across 3 or 4 generations, understanding the demands for care which individuals face from multiple generations, and the way in which such demands are combined with multiple roles simultaneously, such as paid work, is of critical policy relevance.

This paper analyses the 1958 National Child Development Study in order to examine how mid-life men and women distribute their time dedicated to support their elderly parents and their own adult children through providing grandchild care. The analysis also investigates the socio-demographic characteristics which distinguish individuals supporting multiple generations from those who support only one generation, and those who don’t appear to be providing support towards family members.

Preliminary findings indicate that around one-third of mid-life individuals are ‘at risk’ of providing care to multiple generations, therefore may become ‘sandwiched’ between the older and younger generation. Among these individuals, about half provide some care to both generations simultaneously. With a broader definition of support provided towards parents/parents-in-law, the analysis shows that being ‘sandwiched’ between two generations in terms of the provision of support is more common than shown previously. Supporting individuals who provide support to multiple generations is an important policy priority, which may become increasingly critical as the cohort of individuals discussed in this paper ages.

Presented in Session 115: Intergenerational Relations and Life Stages