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Cohort differences in the availability of informal caregivers: are the boomers at risk?

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Ryan, Lindsay H., Jacqui Smith, Toni Antonucci, and James S. Jackson. 2012. "Cohort differences in the availability of informal caregivers: are the boomers at risk?" The Gerontologist, 52(2): 177-88.

Purpose of the Study: We compare the close family resources of Baby Boomers (BBs) to previous cohorts of older adults at population level and then examine individual-level cohort comparisons of age-related trajectories of informal care availability from midlife into old age. Population data from the U.S. Census and from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) are used to identify a cohort similar to the BBs on marital status and fertility rates. Using generalized linear mixed models and 10-year longitudinal data from Depression and WWII parents (DWP; n = 1,052) and the parents of BBs (PBB; n = 3,573) in the HRS, we examine cohort differences in the time-varying likelihoods of being married and of having an adult child living within 10 miles. The DWP had similar informal care resources at entry to old age as is expected in the BB. Longitudinal analyses of the DWP and PBB cohorts in HRS reveal that the availability of family changes over time and that the DWP cohort was significantly less likely to have a spouse or a grown child living nearby. These findings, and future projections based on them, have significant implications for institutions and public policy concerned with the informal caregiving needs of the Boomer cohort as they age.

DOI:10.1093/geront/gnr142 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC3304892. (Pub Med Central)

Country of focus: United States.

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