Study Finds That Cost of Informal Caregiving for U.S. Elderly Is $522 Billion Annually
The price tag for informal caregiving of elderly people by friends and relatives in the United States comes to $522 billion a year, according to a new RAND Corporation study. Replacing that care with unskilled paid care at minimum wage would cost $221 billion, while replacing it with skilled nursing care would cost $642 billion annually. The study, published online by the journal Health Services Research, improves on earlier estimates about the value of informal caregiving by making use of the 2011 and 2012 American Time Use Survey, a new and unique database, to provide up-to-date cost estimates on informal caregiving. “Our findings provide a new and better estimate of the monetary value of the care that millions of relatives and friends provide to the nation’s elderly,” said Amalavoyal V. Chari, the study’s lead author, a lecturer at the University of Sussex and a former researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “These numbers are huge and help put the enormity of this largely silent and unseen workforce into perspective.” Across America, people spend an estimated 30 billion hours every year providing care to elderly relatives and friends. The cost is measured by valuing the times caregivers have given up in order to be able to provide care.