As the U.S. population ages, the total annual cost of lost wages for unpaid family caregiving is on track to more than double, to reach $147 billion by 2050, a recent study suggests.
The current economic cost of unpaid family care is about $67 billion and includes reduced work hours and foregone earnings for Americans 20 to 64 years old who take time off from their jobs to help a loved one manage serious medical issues. This is based on population demographics and wage data from 2013.
This total economic cost is expected to surge as more elderly people need care, fewer family members are available to provide this care, and relatives who step in to help are increasingly higher-educated individuals with higher paying jobs, according to the study in Health Affairs.
"The number of potential caregivers per each disabled older adult will decline in the coming decades," said Stipica Mudrazija, author of the study and a researcher at the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.