AARP Multicultural Survey July 2001
Composition of the Generation
Members of the so-called “sandwich generation,” Americans between the ages of 45 and 55, are indeed sandwiched between still-maturing children and their own parents and older relatives. These older boomers have reached a particularly family-oriented stage of their lives. By this point, most have gotten married, and 67 percent are currently married, compared with 57 percent of the U.S. adult population as a whole. Another 3 percent live with someone else as a couple. Eight percent have never been married—a proportion far lower than among the rest of the nation (24%). Only 4 percent have become widowed, nearly half of the 7 percent proportion that prevails among adults nationwide. On the other hand, members of this cohort (17%) are more apt than the general population (12%) to be divorced or separated.
Forty-four percent have living parents and children under 21 years old. Few live with their parents or older relatives (6%), but many more care for or financially support their older relatives (22%).
Members of the sandwich generation are in a productive stage of life. They have had time to acquire above-average levels of education and income. Thirty-eight percent have received at least a college degree (25% college, 13% college and post-graduate), compared with just 23 percent of the general population. Whereas only 17 percent of Americans have annual household incomes of $75,000 or more, 27 percent of older boomers enjoy such means.
In many respects, this generation resembles others. Women constitute a slim (51%) majority. Whites compose 75 percent of the cohort, while blacks make up 11 percent, Hispanics form 9 percent, and Asians represent only 4 percent.
A forty-seven percent plurality of the generation live in suburban areas instead of urban or rural ones. Even in this nation of immigrants, the vast majority (91%) of these Americans were born in the United States. Figure 1 summarizes the demographic characteristics of the generation, while table 1 compares the cohort’s attributes with those of the rest of the nation.
Prepared for AARP by Belden Russonello & Stewart and Research/Strategy/Management Page 11