Will Fewer Children Boost Demand for Formal Caregiving?

Publication Date: March 2019

Publisher: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Author(s): Gal Wettstein; Alice Zulkarnain

Research Area: Population and demographics

Keywords: Financing Retirement

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Today, 25 percent of all caregivers of elderly are adult children. However, while the parents of the Baby Boom generation had three children per household on average, the Boomers themselves only have two. This project uses the Health and Retirement Study to assess how the number of children a person has affects the demand for formal long-term care, i.e. Long-term services and supports (LTSS), using ordinary linear regression, a Cox proportional hazard model, and an instrumental variable approach. Results suggest that the lower fertility of the Baby Boom generation is likely to lead to greater demand for LTSS in the coming decades. For example, the instrumental variable estimates indicate that having one fewer child increases the probability of having spent a night in a nursing home in the last two years from 10.7 percent to 12.4 percent among those with two or more Activities of Daily Living limitations.