New Study Views the 'Sandwich Generation' From a Multicultural Perspective

An AARP study of members of the 'sandwich generation''”baby boomers caring for both young children and older parents or other older adults'”has revealed some surprising findings on the role race and ethnicity play in caregiving. The study, In the Middle: A Report on Multicultural Boomers Coping With Family and Aging Issues, is based on telephone interviews conducted in March 2001 with 2,352 Americans aged 45 to 55. The AARP says it is the first study to document the attitudes and behaviors of the sandwich generation from a multicultural perspective.

The study found that more than two in ten members of the sandwich generation are helping to care for their parents or other older adults. However, the extent to which care is provided varies widely by ethnicity. Less than 20 percent of whites provide such care, compared with 28 percent of African Americans, 34 percent of Hispanics, and 42 percent of Asian Americans. People born outside the U.S. are much more likely to provide care for parents or other older adults'”43 percent compared to 20 percent for those born in the U.S.

While nearly half of the respondents have pangs of guilt that they are not providing enough care for older relatives, those who provide the most care are more likely to feel the most guilt. Asian Americans express the most guilt (72 percent), followed by Hispanics (65 percent), African Americans (54 percent), and non-Hispanic whites (44 percent).

At the same time, members of the age group formerly dubbed the 'me generation' do not seem to resent the care they are providing. Nine out of ten respondents say that family is the most important thing in their lives. Rather than feeling stressed out by their responsibilities, members of the sandwich generation report they feel more squeezed than overly stressed. More than seven in ten say they can comfortably handle their family responsibilities. However, those feeling the most stress have the lowest incomes and the least ability to take time off to care for family members.

For more on the AARP report, including links to the full survey and Executive Summary, go to