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AARP Multicultural Survey July 2001

I. Introduction

As Americans live longer, many older baby boomers—those between the ages of 45 and 55—have both living parents and children of their own. Popular accounts in the mass media and elsewhere frequently portray members of this group, often termed the “sandwich generation,” as simultaneously tugged in different directions by child rearing responsibilities and the care needs of elderly family members. To learn more about how members of this generation are responding to these demands, AARP asked two firms, Belden Russonello and Stewart (BRS) and Research/Strategy/Management (R/S/M), to survey this segment of the American public.

The survey results surprised us. We began the effort thinking that older baby boomers would feel enormously burdened by the dual demands of parenting and elder care. Yet the survey analysis sketches a different profile of these boomers—less stressed, more self-assured, and more at ease in their roles than not.

The analysis in this report is based on the results of a national survey of 2,352 Americans between the ages of 45 and 55, conducted from March 8 to March 31, 2001 using a random digit dial (RDD) sample. To accommodate a particular interest in differences among racial and ethnic groups, we oversampled minority members of the generation. The survey includes interviews with 404 African Americans, 429 Hispanics, and 351 Asian Americans. For the oversamples of African Americans and Hispanics, additional RDD samples were drawn in telephone exchanges with higher than average concentrations of these groups. The Asian American oversample was randomly drawn from listed telephone numbers with Asian American surnames across the United States. The survey results were weighted so that the sample’s proportion of members of each racial and ethnic group matches that in the nation as a whole.

The sampling tolerance for a basic sample of 1,500 is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. The sampling tolerance for non-Hispanic whites (n=1,142) is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points; for the African American (n=404) and Hispanic (n=429) subsamples, the sampling tolerance is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points; and for Asian Americans (n=351), the sampling tolerance is plus or minus 5.2 percentage points.

The questionnaire was developed by BRS and R/S/M in collaboration with AARP. Interviewing was conducted by telephone, using English and Spanish versions of the questionnaire.

Prepared for AARP by Belden Russonello & Stewart and Research/Strategy/Management Page 1

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