Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update

Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update
The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving

In 2009, about 42.1 million family caregivers in the United States provided care to an adult with limitations in daily activities at any given point in time, and about 61.6 million provided care at some time during the year. The estimated economic value of their unpaid contributions was approximately $450 billion in 2009, up from an estimated $375 billion in 2007.

From the Introduction of this AARP Public Policy Institute report: “Family support is a key driver in remaining in one’s home and in the community, but it comes at substantial costs to the caregivers themselves, to their families, and to society. If family caregivers were no longer available, the economic cost to the U.S. health care and long-term services and supports (LTSS) systems would increase astronomically.”

This updated report provides national and state estimates of the economic value of family care. Here are some highlights:

  • 65% of family caregivers are female.
  • More than 80% are caring for a relative or friend age 50 or older.
  • The “average” U.S. caregiver is a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and also spends nearly 20 hours per week providing unpaid care to her mother for nearly five years.
  • The 2009 economic burden of $450 billion/year is based on 42.1 million caregivers providing an average of 18.4 hours of care per week at a value of $11.16 per hour.
  • $450 billion is more than total Medicaid spending including both federal and state contributions.$450 billion is close to the total Medicare expenditures in 2009 ($509 billion).
  • $450 billion is more than the total sales of the 3 largest car companies combined (Toyota, Ford & Daimler totaled $439 billion).
  • $450 billion is almost $1,500 for every US citizen regardless of age.
  • $450 billion is about 3.2% of US GDP ($14.1 trillion in 2009).
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