Dollar Value of Caregivers — September 2010, reviewed January 2013

Unpaid caregivers provide by far the majority of long-term services and supports received by persons with disabilities of all ages.  The economic value of family caregiving was estimated at $450 billion in 2009 by the AARP Public Policy Institute.

When this estimate was made, caregivers provided an average of 18.4 hours of care per week, or over 950 hours per year.  When one looks at these numbers, you realize that this is a half-time job without pay.
What does $450 billion mean?  In a more meaningful context this means more than $1,500 for every person in the United States.

Unpaid caregiving is a part of the ‘informal economy’.  This has financial consequences for caregivers.  Among them may be a decision to cut work hours to part-time, declining promotions because of longer hours or passing up training opportunities requiring travel.

There are subtle financial consequences, too.  Among them are lost opportunities for compound returns on 401(k) matching contributions, and a reduction in savings and investments.

The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement has an online publication, ‘Caregivers: Care for Yourself While Caring for Others’.  The website for access is www.wiserwomen.org.  It’s a good resource for caregivers, women or men, to help work through some of the financial decisions of caregiving.