Study Finds National Caregiving Costs Exceed $500 Billion


caregiver-300x199.jpgA new study shows that the value of home caregiving services in the United States is an astonishing half a trillion dollars per year. The RAND Corporation, a well-respected public policy institute, conducted the study, which was published online on October 7, 2014 in the journal Health Services Research. Entitled “The Opportunity Costs of Informal Elder-Care in the United States: New Estimates from the American Time Use Survey,” the study examines data from the 2011 and 2012 American Time Use Survey and determines from this the cost estimate of what is termed “informal caregiving," the services of home caregivers who provide essential support for elderly individual in home-based settings.

The value of caregiver hours

Home caregivers spend approximately 30 billion hours providing elderly individuals with care. Some of these hours – approximately 22 billion - are contributed by individuals who also work at paying jobs elsewhere; other hours are contributed by individuals who are not employed at paying jobs.

Researchers calculated the hourly pay rate for both those who are employed (about 60% of all home caregivers) and those who are not, and then applied those rates to determine the value of the contributions that these individuals make through caregiving. They then arrived at the staggering $522 billion figure mentioned earlier.

The study also estimates what it would cost to replace all of these home caregi​vers with paid workers. Assuming that the replacement was made entirely by unskilled workers receiving minimum wage, the cost would be $221 billion. That number becomes even higher, of course, when you calculate the result if home caregivers were to replaced by qualified nursing care providers; in that case, the cost would peak at around $642 billion.

Putting things in perspective​​

In a press release from the RAND Corporation, lead author Amalavoyal V. Chari, a lecturer at the University of Sussex, states that the numbers found in the study “are huge and help put the enormity of this largely silent and unseen workforce into perspective.”

Home caregivers sometimes feel underappreciated for all the incredible work they do; this study helps to clearly identify just how valuable, monetarily speaking, that work is.


There are no comments on this post.
Looking for advice?

Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.

Sign up for advice

Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.

Please select at least one newsletter.
Valid email address is required
View sample
View sample
View sample