Asian Families Struggle to Support Children, Parents: Study

SINGAPORE

More Asian families are struggling under the pressure of simultaneously supporting their children and ageing parents, a study released this week says.

Longer lifespans and women bearing children at a later age have increased the number of Asia’s so-called “sandwich generation,” said the study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

“Across the region, many members of the sandwich generation are squeezed by the financial burden of caring for multiple generations and are concerned that their future living standards will decline,” it said.

One in five working-age Asians is now a member of this group, said the EIU study, sponsored by investment product and services provider Fidelity International.

Members of this cohort are typically aged between 30 and 45, married and support one or two children and two parents or parents-in-law, and their size varies across the region, according to the study.

In China, 37 percent of the working-age population cares for both children and elderly parents, while in Japan and Australia the figure is only six percent.

Due to financial pressure, members of this group are working harder, saving less and taking fewer risks with their money, the study said.

“More than one-third… have had to work harder to cover family expenses since becoming ‘sandwiched’, about half have reduced their savings and investments and nearly two-thirds are more cautious with their existing investments than they would otherwise be,” it added.

More than a third – 36 percent – of them say they are “struggling to cope” with the demands of supporting both children and ageing parents, with the number higher in Hong Kong at 53 percent.

Filial piety, however, remained strong, with 78 percent agreeing it was their responsibility to care for their aged parents, according to the study, entitled “Feeling the Squeeze: Asia’s Sandwich Generation.”

While children’s education is a major expense, providing healthcare for elderly parents is an additional burden especially in countries with weak social security systems, the study said.

EIU said it interviewed 700 respondents in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan who are supporting both children and elderly parents. They interviews were carried out in March and April this year.

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