Changing Welfare States and the “Sandwich Generation” : Increasing Burden for the Next Generation?

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Harald Künemund

Abstract

The burden placed on individuals aged 40 to 59 – especially on women – by competing demands from work and both older and younger family members is often addressed using the metaphor of the “sandwich generation”. Based on a systematization of the definitions used in the literature, empirical evidence on the frequency of such generational constellations and on their impact on the well-being of sandwiched adults will be presented. Analysing the second wave of the German Aging Survey shows that being sandwiched – defined as a generational constellation – is very common, but simultaneous care activities for both older and younger family members are rare, especially in combination with labour force participation, and that life satisfaction is not systematically related to being sandwiched. Implications for further research and future developments will be discussed, especially with respect to changes in family structure (e.g. the beanpole family) and changes in the amount of welfare state spending for the aged.

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