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VOLUME 50 | NUMBER 3 | JUNE 2015


The Opportunity Costs of Informal Elder-Care in the United States: New Estimates from the American Time Use Survey

Keywords: Informal caregiving; elder-care; opportunity cost

Objectives: To provide nationally representative estimates of the opportunity costs of informal elder-care in the United States.

Data Sources: Data from the 2011 and 2012 American Time Use Survey.

Study Design: Wage is used as the measure of an individual's value of time (opportunity cost), with wages being imputed for nonworking individuals using a selection-corrected regression methodology.

Principal Findings: The total opportunity costs of informal elder-care amount to $522 billion annually, while the costs of replacing this care by unskilled and skilled paid care are $221 billion and $642 billion, respectively.

Conclusions: Informal caregiving remains a significant phenomenon in the United States with a high opportunity cost, although it remains more economical (in the aggregate) than skilled paid care.

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