The Sandwich Generation: Demographic Determinants of Global Trends

Carl Mason, University of California, Berkeley
Emilio Zagheni, Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)

We evaluate the consequences of demographic change for care needs of families. We use demographic methods and microsimulation, calibrated with data from the UN WPP 2012 Revision, to estimate trends in the prevalence of the so-called ‘sandwich generation’ for all countries of the world. Longer and healthier life implies that the parents of people at childbearing age are less likely to be in need of support. Conversely, later childbearing increases generational length and implies that grandparents of young children are older and possibly more in need of care. Reduced fertility decreases the number of years that people spend looking after young children. Preliminary results indicate an expected global downward trend in ‘sandwichness’. However, there are large differences across regions of world. If fertility decline in African countries stalls as projected by the UN, relatively high levels of ‘sandwichness’ will persist for a few decades in the continent.

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Presented in Session 56: Intergenerational Relations